NCP leaders stress on the need for introspection

Kathmandu, December 3

Following shock defeats in some traditional communist bastions in by-elections, leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have underscored the need for serious introspection. They have acknowledged that the opposition Nepali Congress has been able to establish itself as a formidable opposition force.

Although the ruling party has yet to officially review the by-election results, some of its leaders have attributed the defeat in Dharan, Chitwan and Bhaktapur to overconfidence and carelessness on part of the leadership in distributing tickets. At the same time, they have credited the party’s win in Kaski and Dang to psychological impact on voters rather than anything else.

In Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, the NC made inroads into the communist bastion by bagging the mayoral. Tilak Rai of the NC

defeated the NCP’s Prakash Rai with a margin of 2,795 votes. NC’s Krishna Lal Bhandel won provincial assembly seat from Bhaktapur 1(a) defeating the NCP’s DP Dhakal. In Chitwan, the NC was able to snatch away some of the wards in the election constituency of NCP Co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

NCP Spokesperson Surya Thapa, however, said the results were expected. He said the losses were result of the party’s internal issues rather than the NCP’s decreased popularity or the NC gaining grounds. Stating that the NCP won 31 of the 52 seats (three more than 28 seats it had won in 2017 general elections), he said the people had rejected ‘unnecessary’ criticism of the party and the government.

However, a senior NCP leader, attributing the losses to overconfidence, lax preparations and organisational weaknesses, said the election results were an eye-opener for the ruling party. The leader said the results also suggested that the NC had emerged as a formidable opposition force.

“The losses were largely because of the party’s internal reasons and people have not lost faith in the NCP. However, we can easily infer that people would eventually look for the NC at the slightest hint of under performance by the NCP,” the leader said requesting not to be named.

Senior NCP leader Bhim Rawal said that although the party had fared better in totality, some trends surfaced as a matter of caution for the party. “The party must minutely analyse the outcome in places like Dharan, Chitwan and Bhaktapur,” he said.

Rawal also said the NCP’s leadership failed to devise a strategy at the central-level to mobilise party cadres nationwide the way opposition parties reportedly did. “The standing committee did not discuss the matter, and I am not aware if the secretariat did,” said Rawal. “So the results have drawn the leadership’s attention towards the importance of organisation, mobilisation and policy formulation.”

Another senior NCP leader said outcome in Dharan and Chitwan were the result of anti-incumbency sentiment, acknowledging that the party had fielded a ‘weak’ candidate in Bhaktapur. As far as Dang and Kaski are concerned, there was psychological effect rather than anything else. The NCP had fielded late Rabindra Adhikari’s wife Bidhya Bhattarai in Kaski HoR constituency, whereas it had fielded Bimala Kumari Khatri, wife of late Uttar Kumar Oli. Both Bhattarai and Khatri won respective seats. “Nonetheless, introspection is needed,” he said.