Kathmandu, February 15
At a time when the establishment side of Nepali Congress is divided over who will be the candidate for party president in the party’s 13th National General Convention, senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba’s faction is now rigorously working on several strategies to ensure Deuba as the party president.
Even when there are just 16 days left for the NGC, that is on March 3, the establishment side has not been able to decide on a single candidate as Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Prakash Man Singh have challenged Ramchandra Paudel for the party’s next presidency.
Paudel, however, is trying to bring both of them to under the umbrella of the establishment side and trying to conserve the legacy of the Koirala family that ruled Congress during most of its seven-decade history.
The Deuba faction is now calculating its strength and has assessed that NGC representatives of more than 100 constituencies out of 188 constituencies that have already published results have been elected from the Deuba camp.
Results of the remaining 53 constituencies are yet to come as many of them had postponed their conventions due to internal reasons.
Once the NGC representatives of all constituencies are decided, the Deuba faction will try to bring some stalwarts from the establishment side by offering them maximum possible positions in the party’s Central Working Committee and other key bodies of the party.
The faction is trying its best to bring Arjun Narsingh KC into its fold.
“We are strong as of today’s calculation of NGC representatives. As Paudel of the establishment side does not have full support from within his team, the possibility of Deuba becoming the next president of the party has emerged stronger,” said a leader close to Deuba.
Bimalendra Nidhi is also trying to bring the establishment side’s strongmen to Deuba’s fold to ensure Deuba’s victory in the NGC.
Deuba faction’s leaders have three reasons for the faction’s stronger position.
“First, party workers see Deuba as the most capable leader in decision-making, shouldering the party’s challenges in the new context and making the party vibrant.
Second, many of Koirala’s supporters or leaders from the establishment side have now switched over to the Deuba fold wishing for a more systematic intra-party evaluation system. Three, Deuba has consolidated his power, but his rivals are still divided giving advantage to Deuba.
All these reasons have made him the most potential party president,” said Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, who is close to Deuba.
The Deuba faction has also offered Ramchandra Paudel leadership of the parliamentary party and the next prime ministerial candidate from the party in return for his support to Deuba’s bid for the party presidency.
However, there is little chance that Paudel will accept the offer.
Leaders from the establishment side say that even if more than one candidate fought for the party presidency from the faction, the ultimate result will favour them.
Paudel is in the forefront as members of the Koirala family have already hinted they will throw their support for Paudel this time. “Deuba will be unable to garner more than 50 per cent votes in the first round election.
In the run-off voting, leaders of the establishment side will have no option but to forge consensus and support each other,” said Nabindra Raj Joshi, a CWC member close to Paudel.
A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.