NARAYAN PRASAD GHIMIRE
KATHMANDU, March 12: A week back, media reported that the meeting of the Nepali Congress witnessed exchange of heated words among senior leaders over why the party failed to perform well in the recent three-tier elections, and why the alternative to party President Sher Bahadur Deuba should be mulled for the election of the parliamentary party leader.
However, Deuba became successful to clinch the parliamentary party leader through the elections. It was Prakashman Singh fighting against Deuba for the post, but in vain.
As news mentioned, senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and Prakashman Singh were irate with President Deuba’s working style reasoning that it resulted in poor performance in the elections. Poudel even made a written objection, decrying the groupism fomented by the President. Similarly, Singh was learnt to have become louder in the previous meetings when the President spoke of the punishment to those speaking against party norms.
It is common and natural that such debates take place within a political party, which ultimately helps make corrections for the future. But how the leadership internalizes the weakness and commits to correction is always in question not only in particular party but in almost all in Nepal.
In the meeting where he had to face severe criticism, NC President Deuba defended himself reminding the past that the party could not gain majority of votes in the previous elections as well, but the presidents did not quit. Interestingly, he said it was not the only the responsibility of the party president but of entire party behind the electoral debacle.
Questioning over the NC leadership began immediately after getting the clues with election results that its vote bank was badly eroding. Youth leader Gagan Thapa after getting elected to the post of member of the House of Representatives from Kathmandu said the time had come for the party to immediately hold special convention and make severe review. His tone was clear that leadership failed.
With this in the background, it is not uncommon for anyone to ponder what actually led the NC, the democracy stalwart leading every democratic movement in Nepal, to such failure.
Deuba is right in deed that it was not only his role but of entire party behind the electoral defeat. But, it was shocking that he failed to admit that as the head of the party he was more responsible than others. Also, being clueless over then government partner Maoist Center’s defection to the CPN-UML for electoral alliance is considered by many as a blunder of party President Deuba. It was the Maoist-UML electoral alliance that edged the NC in voting.
It has been long the NC, though claiming itself synonymous to democracy in Nepal, began seeing erosion of democratic values and practice within the party. Nepotism, favoritism, vicious layers of sycophants, ideological crisis, death of discipline, undue influence of arrivistes and contractors have almost paralyzed the party organization and values.
To drag the party to this miserable state, what are the causes? In this connection, political analyst Purushottam Dahal recently wrote in a daily, “Present Congress is the result of the suicidal trend set by Girija Prasad Koirala and the subsequent aggressive but abortive strategy adopted by Krishna Prasad and Ganeshman.”
For the rebirth of the NC, analyst Dahal suggested the three leaders of Koirala clan- Dr Shekar, Dr Sashank and Sujata, and the sons of Ganeshman and Mahendra Narayan Nidhi, Prakashman and Bimalendra respectively to rise above group interests and forge unity.
The argument also suggests that slogan of renaissance in Nepal Congress is apt and timely. But, why the discussion on NC’s renaissance is not continued is a wonder.
The status of the ideological values of the nationality, democracy and socialism must be redefined in view of the changed context. The relevance of these three mottos needs to be debated thoroughly. Finding harmony and difference between the socialism defined by BP Koirala and the socialism the NC practices now can guide the party. With the federalism in place, the urban-centric attitude and leadership must be de-centered, so that grassroots politics of the party would be improved.
Most importantly, the political sociology of Nepal frequently suggests the erosion of political culture. Building valued political culture is however a shared responsibility. Revival of intra-party democracy is pre-requisite to it. Are the NC leadership and the leaders ready for it, which would ensure renaissance in the party?