Poudel, Koirala close ranks against DeubaRift in the opposition Nepali Congress is widening on multiple fronts as three power centres of the party close ranks against NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Rift in the opposition Nepali Congress is widening on multiple fronts as three power centres of the party close ranks against NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Rooted in the party’s poor performance during the federal and provincial elections held last year, disputes and disagreements festered after Deuba started taking decisions with the backing of a majority in the Central Working Committee (CWC).
The fresh bone of contention is Deuba’s unilateral push to impose 32 years as the cut off age for student leaders to contest the Nepal Student Union elections. A CWC meeting took the decision last week amid opposition from senior party leaders Ram Chandra Poudel, Prakash Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Arjun Narsingh KC registered their notes of dissent.
The Poudel and Deuba factions are also locked in a dispute over the new party charter. To prepare the factional position on the charter, Poudel convened a separate gathering on Monday at the residence of General Secretary Shashank Koirala.
The content of the charter draft has polarised the party deeply since the Poudel faction opposes a powerful president proposed by a panel led by another General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka. Though the Khadka-led team held one round of nationwide discussion on the charter draft, the Poudel faction has started deliberating ways to counter Deuba’s strategy in the planned meeting of Mahasamiti, the highest policy-making body of the party that decides on the charter.
“Our position is clear,” said Arjun Narsingh KC, who led the gathering on Monday. All the positions of the party office bearers should be elected. The new draft proposes increasing the number of office bearers to 10 from six at present. There are also proposals that either all should be elected or half of them elected and the rest nominated by the party president.Some central members are also nominated by the party president.
“All the party office bearers should be elected. Nomination by the president is unacceptable to us,” said KC. Not only the office bearer positions, other crucial panels like the Parliamentary, Discipline and Elections committees should be elected too, he said about the outcome of Monday’s gathering.
Though the Mahasamiti may not easily endorse the proposal to make the president all-powerful, Poudel is reaching out to the Sitaula faction against the proposal. They plan to defeat the idea at the meeting of the apex body scheduled to be held in Kathmandu in December.
Over the domination of Deuba in the party committees, Poudel and Sitaula boycotted the meeting scheduled for Friday. Apart from Shashank, two other Koirala family members—Shekhar and Sujata—are also against the concept of a powerful party president. A democratic party like the Congress must not adopt such a policy, said leader Nabindra Raj Joshi.