Kathmandu, February 18

The heavyweights of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ramchandra Paudel today expressed their desire to contest for party president in the 13th National General Convention of the party to be held from March 3 to 6 in Kathmandu.

At separate informal meetings with reporters, the two stalwarts offered carrots to each other for securing the party’s top post.

Deuba had called reporters at his residence in Budhanilakantha and Paudel at his contact office in Anamnagar to state their intentions.

Deuba said he wanted to unite the party by offering Paudel the leadership of the Parliamentary Party, which meant the party’s next prime ministerial candidate.

“The country can be led only if the party is united,” he said, adding that this can happen only if he (Deuba) became party president and Paudel the PP leader.

Claiming ownership to the legacy of the Koirala family, Deuba said, “I am also a person of the Koirala family as I joined Congress after being influenced by BP Koirala and worked with Girijababu. BP and GP always regarded me as one of their family members.”

Rejecting the allegation that he had handed over democracy to the then king, Deuba said, “BP Koirala and me are the only elected prime ministers who were sacked by the king. However, I was baselessly accused of handing over democracy to the palace.”

Deuba blamed Paudel for creating grounds for the NC split t in 2002 and said, “Paudel wanted to open a separate party as he was at odds with Girija Prasad Koirala. He was offered presidency of the new party, but he rejected it at the last hour.

He could have become the president that time.”

Paudel, however, rejected the Deuba’s offer saying, “If he makes me such an offer, I also can make a similar offer to him as there is a position higher than that of prime minister  that is the position of president of the country. I will not be trapped by any such greed.”

Stating that he wanted to fight for democratic transformation of the country, Paudel said, “Maoist leaders including Pushpa Kamal Dahal had offered me the position of first president of the country saying they couldn’t accept Girija Prasad Koirala as president.

Before filing Ram Baran Yadav’s candidacy, Koirala also offered me the post. I rejected both the offers as I had always worked with the mission to change the face of the country through democratic exercise.”

Paudel said he was consulting with his team about contesting in the NGC and would announce his candidacy formally by February 27 or 28.

“The party had to face tough times in the past because it shared positions on the basis of factionalism and everybody knows who did it.

However, I always fought against it even when Girija Prasad Koirala was party president. I have proved this with my working style,” Paudel said.