Congress debating internal democracy

Kathmandu, January 16

Will there be some improvements in the practice of internal democracy in the oldest democratic party — Nepali Congress — after its 13th National General Convention? Or it will continue with factionalism and sharing of positions among a few power-holders in the abundance of nominated posts in various power-exerting bodies.

Changes to be made in the party’s statute will determine the party’s future course to a great extent.

Two uphill tasks before the Congress are tackling the growing influence of regional parties and changing its leadership selection process from the grassroots to the headquarters level, creating conducive environment for emergence of competitive leadership?

A 10-member committee headed by Ananda Prasad Dhungana is now working on the party’s statute amendment proposal with the aim of revamping the party. The amendments will come into effect only after the party’s Central Working Committee fine-tunes the proposal and the NGC to be held from 3-6 March in Kathmandu endorses it.

As the NC’s leadership selection process from the local to the central level has been affected spoiling the party’s internal democracy, the party’s rank and file are expecting improvements through statute amendment.

In the 85-member CWC, 33 positions including one Vice-president, one General Secretary and one Joint General Secretary are nominated by the party president as per the current provision. The Parliamentary Board of the party, responsible for naminge candidates in the parliamentary elections is also in the hold of the party president. The party is now discussing whether to keep intact the existing provisions and increase the nominated positions and the number of office bearers.

Party President Sushil Koirala-led faction is making attempts to increase the number of office bearers and increase nominated positions. Owning late Congress leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai’s opinion, Sushil Koirala told a party’s internal meeting yesterday that the party president should have more power to make the party functional, according to party sources.

“Kishunjee had once said the party should be in the hold of the president. I pleaded against it and urged for more elected positions at that time. However, now I have realised that he was right and I was wrong,” Koirala told the meeting of office bearers, senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and members of the statute amendment proposal preparation committee at his residence yesterday, according to party sources.

Koirala also proposed that the party presidents of all provinces should be nominated by the central party president to facilitate good coordination between the provinces and the centre. Members of Deuba faction, including Bal Krishna Khand, Pushpa Bhusal and Mahendra Yadav and even Shekhar Koirala, who belongs to the Koirala faction, pleaded for electing the president of each province from the party’s voters at the province level.

“If the party presidents of the provinces are nominated, the party will be unable to grow in real terms and tackle the growing influence of regional parties. The nomination system will further weaken the party and thus we should not allow the central president of the party to make nominations,” Khand said.

NC spokesperson and Koirala faction leader Dilendra Prasad Badu said, “The party will be restructured at the upcoming convention as the party is preparing to end the problem of active members of the party, creating the party’s working committees in all provinces and making all working committees inclusive and vibrant through statute amendment.”