A battle between action and no-action

(Narayan Prasad Ghimire)

Kathmandu, March 12: ‘Every action and ‘no action’ have reactions.’ It was what a chief judge from one of the SAARC countries said during the SAARC Chief Justices’ Conference held in Kathmandu last week. I invoke this line for some reflection on the recent election in the Nepali Congress, the oldest democratic party and the largest one in the Legislature-Parliament that installed the senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as the chief of the party. What are the reasons behind Deuba’s victory against leader Ram Chandra Poudel backed by the Koirala clan at last hour? What was the oomph that Deuba had, which Poudel lacked?
As this largest political party made a grand democratic exercise by electing representatives for the national convention from the very local level to change the party leadership, it is worth to write something about this party and the changes it can and should bring in the national politics set to a system of nascent federal republic.
Yes, senior leader Deuba who has already been the prime minister for three times, performed his action while his rival Poudel did ‘no action’ that brought the respective reactions- victory and loss. Question arises: Didn’t Poudel really take any action, and what were Deuba’s actions? Poudel’s weakness can be taken as no action. His major weakness revealed at present is- he entirely believed everything lies in Koirala clan in the party. Present revelation indicates that his faith in Koirala leaders made him dull enough to make himself capable to entice leaders and cadres to his fold. His entire political life, despite some tussles on different times, remained loyal to the establishment. Politics made him such that he had to side with Koirala family while regarding Krishna Prasad Bhattarai as his real guru and ideal leader. The same politics made leader Deuba garner Bhattarai’s sympathy despite having GP Koirala as his political guru. With this, Poudel placed his hope high on the establishment- GP and Sushil Koiralas. Eventually, his kind belief however turned costly- he neither got full support from Koirala clan nor garnered votes from the leaders and cadres of the establishment side. It is the no action that earned such reaction to Poudel. Three Koirala candidates- Dr Shekhar, Dr Sashank and Sujata- showed unity at the last hour by agreeing on Dr Sashank as the General Secretary candidate. He ultimately turned hero to the entire party, defeating Deuba camp’s General Secretary Arjun Narsing KC, leader senior to him in deed. It was that unity which turned Dr Sashank victorious but failed to elect Poudel as party chief. And here lies a lack of campaigning and canvassing from Koirala family for leader Poudel. The unity within Koirala family for Poudel’s cause is thus mechanical. Therefore it is not unfair to say that the election reflected Poudel’s much belief on Koiralas and Koiralas’ disbelief on Poudel. It can be buttressed with the fact that influential leader of the establishment, Arjun Narsing KC, was enticed to Deuba camp. Had Koiralas tried to keep KC within the party, it was not such a herculean task.
Deuba’s victory is therefore the result of action- aggressive leadership, vibrant activism, tact and diplomacy. He has the experience of leading the coalition governments. His flexibility, though counted by many as lenient and deviant sometimes, can easily earn leaders and cadres’ favour. Election is not simply panegyric rhetoric of discipline and party policy, but a game of tact. Deuba displayed that tactfulness with judicious acts and effective diplomacy.
Now, time has come for Deuba to keep intact the party first- factionalism must come to an end. Though Dr Sashank’s victory as General Secretary has been taken significantly for balancing power within the party, Deuba should be accommodative to hear all sorts of grievances within the party. He must heed the aspirations and plans of his rival Poudel for the party and country. Leader Deuba has got a historic opportunity to dismantle the bitter fact of 60-40 division in the party. In this connection, a close observer of the activities of this democratic party, and associate Professor Chiranjivi Kafle suggested leader Deuba that he did not budge from party roots. His flexibility must not be lenient moves to appease other parties, Mr Kafle cautioned.
There are other unforgettable national agenda that the Nepali Congress must heed- campaign for national unity with social cohesion, effective implementation of constitution with judicious decision on demands of Madhes agitation and provincial demarcation, acceleration of reconstruction activities, fostering harmonious relations with neighbours and friendly countries and devotion to economic progress. To accomplish these national agendas, rising above party politics, and garnering support and confidence from other parties is imperative.