Nepali Congress In A Course Of Internal Collision

The President and the General Secretary locking political horns

Dr. Jiba Raj Pokharel
Read Time = 6 mins

The call for resignations have prominently figured in the Nepali politics recently. The Member of the Parliament and the Chief Whip of Rastriya Prajatantra Party(RPP) Mr. Gyanendra Bahadur Shahi has asked for the resignation of the Prime Minister Prachanda following the filing of petition in the Supreme Court implicating the Prime Minister Prachanda and Former Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai. The duo is alleged to have used child labor by mobilizing under aged persons in the People War waged under their leadership. The Maoist Central Parliamentarian Mr. Madhav Prasad Sapkota accused Mr. Shahi for attacking the Prime Minister in a non-political mode. Mr. Sapkota requested the Speaker to erase the allegation from the Parliament proceedings which the Speaker told to have attracted his attention.

This demand of resignation was from the leader of the opposition to the leader of the Government which is not very unusual in a Parliamentary Democracy. But the more serious askance of resignation was that of the President of NC and the Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba by none other than his own General Secretary Mr. Gagan Thapa who in a very tortuous manner asked for his resignation requesting him to clear the way. In response, Mr. Deuba's supporters said that the General Secretary should resign first before seeking for the resignation of the President. It means that the President and the General Secretary have locked the political horns like two bulls in a pasture land. Such battles seldom end in a draw. In fact, the winner bull chases the loser to a long distance. At times, it triggers loose belly motion to the loosing bull. So, it remains to be seen who will tender the resignation.

Sher Bahadur Deuba has been alleged to have failed in numerous occasions. But he continues to stand his ground because of the majority that he exercises in the party.

Sher Bahadur Deuba has been alleged to have failed in numerous occasions. But he continues to stand his ground because of the majority that he exercises in the party. It reminds one to one of the incidents in the game of cricket when India were playing against Australia. Kapil Dev was bowling superbly and the batsman was beaten and was all at sea. But he was not given out. Kapil said "yes the batsman has been bowled but has he been out"? Similar, is the case with Deuba. He has been beaten with his thumbs down. But he continues to occupy the central stage of politics in Nepal.

So there is a dilemma in NC. In one hand, Deuba enjoys majority close to 80 per cent but his performance is well below 80 per cent. Talking of the recent ones as there have been uncountable in the past, but the first failure of Deuba is in the inability to secure majority in the Federal Election despite tying bogeys with seven parties. The second one is the implication of his close alley Mr. Bal Krishna Khand, the Former Home Minister in the Bhutan Refugee Scam. The third one is the hushed silence maintained by NC to suspend Khnad when United Marxists and Leninists(UML) did so to Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, their Secretary. The fourth is the failure to fill up the vacancies in NC like the post of the Treasurer and the election of the Fraternity Wings such as the Nepali Students Union and several others. The fifth is the inability to secure victory for its party in the last by-election.

This is however not to say that there is no silver lining in the dark clouds. That is his ability to bring Prachanda to the NC fold when he had eloped to the UML and formed a Government as well. This success is however like a tiny island amidst the oceanic failure. Recently, he has made attempt to bring Sekhar Koirala in his fold as a senior leader. The Vice President Mr. Purna Bahadur Khadka is said to be shocked by the present development because he had taken for granted that he will be projected as Deuba's successor specially after Deuba's recent disclosure that he will not contest for the President of NC anymore.

So what can be done under such circumstances? It has put the future of NC and more of the youngsters in the Party in jeopardy. It is natural that the young turks like Gagan Thapa and Biswa Prakash Sharma, the two energetic and enthusiastic secretaries will be very weary and hence this statement coming out of Gagan Thapa in view of their long political career ahead of them as against a rather shorter one of Mr. Deuba.

The Deuba group will come hard at him the signs of which are already visible in telling Gagan to resign first before seeking the resignation of Mr. Deuba.

This is not the first time that such crevices have been seen in NC. In 1953, three was difference of opinion between the Prime Minister Matrika Praad Koirala and B P Koirala with the result that Matrika Prasad had to exit from the Government. Again in 1990, Mr. Ganesh Man Singh did not see eye to eye with the Genera Secretary Girija Prasad Koirala leading to the abandonment of the Party by Mr. Singh. In the later years of his political career, Mr. Krishna Prasad Bhattarai also remained aloof from the NC.

One of the two, either Mr. Deuba or Gagan Thapa need to exit from the party based on this historical reality. Due to the majority enjoyed by Deuba in the party it is likely that Mr. Gagan Thapa has to abandon the party. The Deuba group will come hard at him the signs of which are already visible in telling Gagan to resign first before seeking the resignation of Mr. Deuba. Because two tigers cannot remain in one jungle. If he does, a new party will be in offing soon as Gagan will not take retirement from politics so soon nor will he remain inactive as Mr. Ganesh Man Singh nor Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. He will not stay in NC that would mean continuing with humiliation.

What will then happen? It is but natural that there will be a polarization of the old and new voters. Whilst the senior democrats will vote for Deuba Congress, the younger ones will align with Gagan Congress. The later will garner more votes because of scams like Wide body and Bhutan Refugee tied to Deuba Congress. That Deuba cannot inspire the voters has been clear from the defeat in the recently concluded election. Deuba has to maintain the coalition as Gagan has already said that NC will not pull along with the coalition in the next election. The Coalition will fare even worse given its bad showing in the Federal Election. But it is for sure that neither Deuba nor Gagan can secure majority letting the UML form the Government which both the groups would least like to see.

What is the way out then in the present circumstances? The best option is to hand over the political mantle to Gagan Thapa for Deuba. He has perhaps realized it and thus made political overture to Mr. Shekhar Koirala. The promotion of Sekhar Koirala to the senior leader may also quell the Gagan group. NC may win the forthcoming election with majority if it goes under the leadership of Sekhar and Gagan without the coalition as the people have been fed up with the coalition. This is the only way to face Rastriya Prajatantra Party which appears to sweep the next election if Deuba continues to lead the NC.


The author is the former Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

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