NC endorses policy and programmes; voting for new leadership today

Kathmandu, March

The ongoing 13th National General Convention of the Nepali Congress entered its final stage – election of party leadership — with its closed session endorsing the party’s policy and programmes with some corrections and the reports of the two general secretaries and treasurer on the party’s internal organisational matters.

Voting is slated to be held from 8:00am to 5:00pm tomorrow at the City Hall.

“Vote counting for the party president will begin immediately after voting ends. The counting is expected to take four to five hours to complete,” said Election Committee member Gopal Krishna Ghimire.

Counting of other positions will begin only after the new party president is declared.

Three candidates — Ramchandra Paudel, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Krishna Prasad Sitaula — are vying for party president. The three factions were aggressively engaged in influencing their voters in various ways, according to party sources.

As none of the candidates seem to be in a position to secure 50 per cent plus votes from the first round, there are high chances that the party president will be elected only from the runoff elections. If a candidate cannot garner more than 50 percent votes, there will be runoff elections between the first and the second contenders. “In such a case, the runoff voting will be held on Monday,” said Ghimire.

Altogether 312 candidates are vying for 64 positions, including three office bearers and Central Working Committee members, according to the final list published by the election committee. Out of 375 who filed their candidacies, 63 candidates for CWC members withdrew their candidacy today.

“We endorsed the policy and programme and all other documents with a commitment to make the new constitution acceptable for all Nepali people by addressing their grievances and playing a leading role for the country’s prosperity,” said the party’s publicity department chief Minendra Rijal.

Acting President Ramchandra Paudel said the closed session ended peacefully in an unprecedented way as no obstacles were faced as in the past.

“We have not decided on changing the government now. The party will take steps by assessing the role of the party in implementing the constitution,” Paudel said at a press meet in the presence of General Secretary Prakash Man Singh.

He said he was working to make the leadership selection process healthy by avoiding any kind of wrong practice of inducing voters.

“We all should be alert so that no one introduces anomalies and manipulations in voting. I urge all friends and voters to think about how to save the party and its democratic culture while taking a decision,” Paudel said.

Paudel said, “Going through the individual responses of voters I met, I am excited and feel I have already won the elections.” He said his competition would be with senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba.

A majority of the party’s NGC representatives had suggested increasing the positions of office bearers and the number of CWC members, according to NGC representative Lekhnath Pokharel.

“It would have been easier to adjust senior leaders among office bearers and bring in many new faces as CWC members. It was necessary also to make the party’s positions compatible with other major parties, which have 151-member central body,” Pokharel cited NGC representatives as saying.