Congress first family faces uncertain futureAge was not quite on his side. Nor was his health condition. But vigour certainly was. Till a few days ago Sushil Koirala was gearing up for the Nepali Congress’s 13th General Convention (GC) and running for a second term for the party presidency. But Koirala suddenly died on Tuesday.
Age was not quite on his side. Nor was his health condition. But vigour certainly was. Till a few days ago Sushil Koirala was gearing up for the Nepali Congress’s 13th General Convention (GC) and running for a second term for the party presidency. But Koirala suddenly died on Tuesday.
Koirala’s demise has raised some questions as far as the future of his party, the Nepali Congress, is concerned.
Will the Koirala family continue to control the party? Who will hold sway over the establishment faction? Will the factional politics end in the party? Or will it get more complicated?
Party Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel, a top leader of the establishment faction, has been given the responsibility of acting party president until the GC scheduled for March 3-6. For the first time in the last two decades, the party leadership, albeit temporarily, has gone outside of the Koirala clan. Primarily, there are three leaders from the party’s first family—Sujata Koirala, Shekhar Koirala and Shashank Koirala—who could, or would like to, give continuity to the Koirala legacy.
However, none of these leaders has the organisational hold and personality to win the election. Shekhar was until a few days ago publicly asking Sushil Koirala not to fight for party presidency.
But some party insiders suspect one of the Koiralas could throw the hat in the ring
for the post of party president. What is interesting is none of these see each other eye to eye. “This is the right time to end factional politics. The Koirala family should support other candidates to keep the party united,” said NC leader Puranjan Acharya, who closely worked with the late Girija Prasad Koirala.
It is widely believed that the late Sushil Koirala was planning to secure the post of presidency and then later hand the responsibility over to the Koirala clan. After Koirala’s demise, party Vice-President Poudel and senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba are likely to be locked in a tight race. It is not yet clear whether the “establishment” side stands behind Poudel.
Before Koirala’s death, key individuals from the establishment camp had already shown inclination towards the Deuba camp for their own political expediency. Arjun Narasingh KC was all set to join the Deuba camp. It is not clear whether his “calculations” will change now. Party General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula had distanced himself from late Koirala and had spoken publicly about running for party presidency.
Analysts and party insiders say Koirala’s departure has but complicated the already tight race between the two factions.