The 14th general convention of the Nepali Congress gave mandate to Sher Bahadur Deuba to run the party for the second time, but analysts and political leaders argue that the jamboree failed to give a strong message of inclusion, as no Madhesi or Tharu is either vice-president or general secretary.

Although Bimalendra Nidhi, who has more than 40 years of association with the party and represents Madhes, contested for party presidency, he got only 250 votes in the first round of election. There was no Madhesi candidate for the post of general secretary. Even the representation of marginalised communities for posts of joint general secretary is just cluster-wise representation.

Political analyst Uddhab Pyakurel said although the NC was better than other major political parties for ensuring cluster-wise representation, Madhesi representation had gone down in recent years. "Madhesis' representation was 12.5 per cent in the party's top structure formed after the 12th general convention.

It went up to 14.11 per cent after the 13th convention. This time Madhesis' representation has come down to 8.29 per cent," Pyakurel said.

He said the NC failed to understand the legacy of legendary leader BP Koirala, who had ensured inclusion of marginalised groups back in 1960s. Pyakurel said that during the 2006 popular movement, parties had given the slogan of empowerment of marginalised groups, especially Madhesis, women, Dalits, and indigenous nationalities, but that seems to have been long forgotten. "This is also because the current constitution has diluted inclusion, other than fixing 33 per cent political representation for women," he said.

Political analyst Chandra Kishor said it was surprising that the NC, which has been in national politics for 70 years with a strong political base in Tarai, did not elect Madhesis among top office bearers. A Tharu leader, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, who contested the election for vice-president from the Deuba faction got 1,906 votes and lost to Dhan Raj Gurung by just two votes. Another candidate for the same post, Purna Bahadur Khadka, who was also from the Deuba faction, secured 2,121 votes. This means voters who voted for Khadka did not vote for Gachhadar.

"Gachhadar's personal performance may also be one factor for his defeat, but it is clear that all Deuba loyalists who voted for Khadka did not vote for Gachhadar," Chandra Kishor added. He said there was no Madhesi among the 35 central working committee members who won election under the open category.

"As far as provincial representation is concerned, it was natural for Province 2 to elect Madhesis, as the province is dominated by Madhesi population.

But even in this election, two candidates of hill origin – Ananda Prasad Dhungana and Ramesh Rijal - won the election unopposed. Jungi Lal Yadav, who was also from Deuba's team, withdrew his nomination paving the way for Dhungana and Rijal to win unopposed,"

Chandra Kishor said.

He said new election results indicated that voters of all major parties were conservative towards Madhes and Madhesis.

Another political analyst, Tula Narayan Shah, said NC convention results reconfirmed the fact that NC too was not ready to accept Madhesi leaders for top posts.

"Madhesi and Tharus or other marginalised communities might hold the post of general secretary or vice-president in near future, but they cannot win party presidency," Shah said. He added that this scenario was less likely to change at least for the next 20 years.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.