New dust-up in Congress just as dust was settlingJust as the dust was settling in the Nepali Congress after a row over active party membership, there is a new dust-up now.
Just as the dust was settling in the Nepali Congress after a row over active party membership, there is a new dust-up now. This time the two factions of the NC, which is holding its general convention in March, are at odds over increasing the number of key party positions by amending the party’s statute.
The establishment side led by party President Sushil Koirala wants to add more key positions “to accommodate” growing aspirations of leaders of his camp. But the Sher Bahadur Deuba faction is objecting to the idea, fearing that it would give Koirala the leverage to rope in more opponents—ensuring his victory during the convention slated for March 3-6, 2016.
Currently, there are seven members: party president, senior leader, one vice-president, two general secretaries, a joint general secretary and a treasurer. The Koirala faction wants to increase the number of vice-president and general secretary.
Deuba is counting on luring dissidents of the Koirala faction into joining his camp by offering them lucrative party positions to ensure his own victory for party presidency. What gives Deuba an edge over Koirala in this regard is: there are fewer aspirants in the Deuba camp for key positions.
Deuba has already offered Arjun Narsingh KC, a senior leader of the Koirala faction, the post of general secretary, according to party insiders.
However, Ram Hari Khatiwada, a Deuba supporter, said that they may agree to increase the number of vice-president to two—to appoint Bimalendra Nidhi and Purna Bahadur Khadka.
Within the Koirala camp, there are some senior leaders who want to be elevated to the post of general secretary. Leaders in the fray include Prakash Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Arjun Narsingh KC, Ram Sharan Mahat, Sujata Koirala, Gagan Thapa, Shashank Koirala and Shekhar Koirala among others.
The Central Working Committee (CWC) of the party has already formed a committee led by Ananda Prasad Dhungana to look into the prospects of amending party’s statute. Dhungana said discussions were underway in the party about increasing the number of office bearers.
The NC is also preparing to restructure party organisations that will be in line with the federal set-up envisioned in the constitution.
Similarly, women and those from Dalit and ethnic communities are also putting pressure to increase the number of office bearers in order to ensure their participation in the body. The office bearer is an apex body mandated to take vital decisions related to party.
Leaders are of the view that as current seven members of the “office bearer team” are without any key responsibilities in the party, increasing the number will not make any difference. “There is no need of increasing the number of office bearers. Instead, current team should be made effective and functional,” said NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC.
There is also a different argument that is getting stronger, according to which the entire office bearers’ team should be directly elected from the convention. As per the existing provision, the President needs no nominate one vice-president and one general secretary.
According to leaders, the nomination provision serves as a legitimate tool for the party president to strengthen his position, as chances of him/her appointing a
person of his/her choice rather than a person with merit are higher.
Leaders from both the camps, however, are of the view that there ultimately will be an agreement on increasing the number of office bearers, but the exercise to gain an advantage will continue.