Nepal | June 24, 2019

Disconnected Congress leaders fear elections

Roshan S Nepal

Kathmandu, February 11

Disconnected from their grassroots base, Nepali Congress leaders are hell bent on giving continuity to the existing statute provision that eliminates risk of being wiped out in ward-level elections.

As per the existing statute, NC central working committee members, office bearers, lawmakers and former lawmakers, among others, automatically become general convention representatives and are eligible to fight election for CWC membership.

However, giving continuity to this provision is against the commitments made by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Senior leader Ramchandra Paudel in the recently concluded meeting of the Maha Samiti, the party’s lawmaking body.

Following immense pressure from Maha Samiti members to amend the party statute with provisions that CWC members should fight elections from the ward-level, Deuba and Paudel had expressed commitment that the party’s subsequent CWC meeting would endorse the provision. The Maha Samiti then ended giving the CWC the authority to adopt the statute with revisions.

If this provision comes to force, a CWC member aspirant should first win ward-level elections to become a representative of the electoral constituency-level convention. And only after winning the electoral constituency-level election, the person becomes a general convention representative and is then eligible to fight election for the CWC and Maha Samiti memberships.

However, the ongoing CWC is unlikely take a decision on the issue as majority of CWC members stand against such a provision, arguing that it will give rise to factional conspiracies to wipe out top leaders from ward-level elections.

Leaders opposed to the provision also say that due procedure needs to be followed for statute amendment — 25 per cent of Maha Samiti members should formally propose such an amendment and the proposal should be endorsed by two-thirds of the members before sending it to the CWC.

“Since these things have come as views not formal proposal, the CWC cannot decide on anything that the Maha Samiti did not discuss,” said a CWC member who did not want to be named. “Moreover, the president and senior leader make many commitments. Do all those become statute provisions? Don’t you think due process should be followed?”

With only around a dozen CWC members in favour of such a provision, the leadership apparently has backtracked from its commitment, and the issue is likely to drag on till the next general convention of the party, which is around a year away.

What is more interesting is leaders of a democratic party like the NC are shying away from elections. “You’re calling yourselves democratic and are scared of elections. What is it?” asked NC CWC member Nabindra Raj Joshi.

“You say conspiracies would be hatched to defeat you from the ward level, but if you have strong support and people’s faith no conspiracy is going to defeat you.”

Observers also say NC leaders’ fear of elections means they are not confident about their base. “This is because they do not work at the grassroots level and do not know the ground reality. They rely on information fed by people of their coterie,” said political analyst Shreekrishna Aniruddh Gautam.

He said leaders were so used to getting served their personal interests on the basis of give-and-take at the top level, they feared they might lose such ‘privilege’ if they needed to be elected from the lower level.


A version of this article appears in print on February 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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