KATHMANDU: The Nepali Congress finds itself in exactly the same situation it was 27 years ago when BP Koirala died of protracted throat cancer. With its president and visionary gone, the Congress party was left with Ganesh Man Singh, Acting President Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and General Secretary Girija Prasad Koirala at the top.
Fast forward to March 20. Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala is dead, and at the helm are: senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, Acting President Sushil Koirala and Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel — all believed to be potential candidates for the party leadership in their own ways. For the moment, the Congress party’s fate hangs on to the trio, as was evident today. Sushil, Deuba and Paudel jointly placed the party flag on the body of the party president as they paid their last respect to the revered leader at the Aryaghat. “If one of them had been an acceptable leader for all, there would be a single leader to place the flag from the party,” said central member Narahari Acharya.
As Koirala was the main initiator of the peace process and the process of writing a new constitution, his demise has created doubts over the success of the two key agendas on time.
Koirala’s demise has put forth some serious questions before the Congress: Who will be the next top leader of the party? Will the next leadership be able to encompass all groups of the party together? Will it hold the capacity to lead the country’s democratic movement and deal with the Maoists as earlier?
With the death of Koirala, who gave a firm leadership to the party for 13 years, the party will have to shoulder two immediate challenges — tackling the issues of peace process with internal unity and electing a new leader.
Although the party has entered into a semi-collective leadership system, there must emerge a single leader from among them to lead the party. “The NC rank and file is not satisfied with the performance of acting president Sushil, parliamentary party leader Paudel and senior leader Deuba. So, if they do not prove themselves competent, the leadership will emerge from the newer generation,” Acharya said.
“None of them have delivered well in their front,” said Acharya.
“If the leaders do not act responsibly and do not reform themselves from the tendency of working for personal interests, the party will have to face more losses and difficulties,” said Purna Bahadur Khadka, another central member.
“The place of Girijababu will never be filled in the party,” said Krishna Sitaula. The leaders must change themselves and be able to come above their personal interests, he said .