Real reason for increasing number of office bearers is to strengthen factionsShreekrishna Aniruddh Gautam, political analyst
Kathmandu, December 13 Nepali Congress is holding its five-day Maha Samiti meeting beginning tomorrow in Kathmandu against the backdrop of its humiliating defeat in general elections last year at the hands of the left alliance of the then CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, relegating the grand old party to the opposition. Although party leaders claim the jamboree will instil new energy in the party that is licking its wounds after the poll rout, ongoing discussion at the party’s Central Working Committee meeting, which is focused on ‘petty issues’ such as increasing the number of office bearers, suggests the gathering will be ‘no more than a formality’ to get statute amendment okayed. This is also evident from the fact that the NC leadership agreed to hold the Maha Samiti gathering not because it actually wanted the meet, but because of pressure from several quarters, including party factions, after the election loss. Therefore, the gathering is being held as a ‘compromise’ between the rival factions that demanded a leadership change through an early general convention and the establishment faction that always shrugged off such demands, attributing the defeat to the alliance between second- and third-largest parties, and not to the leadership or organisational weaknesses. Moreover, the major agenda for the gathering is amending the party statute to restructure the party’s organisation in line with the country’s federal set-up and constituency delineation that is long due. The party has already drafted the statute amendment proposal, which is being discussed in the ongoing CWC meeting. Although the CWC is yet to unanimously agree upon the amendment proposal, with the number of office bearers being the major bone of contention, it is likely that a unanimous decision will be taken through some ‘give and take’ among top leaders. “The things being discussed in the CWC are petty. No programme to go to the masses is being discussed,” says political analyst Prof Krishna Khanal. “I do not expect a major transformation in the NC, except that the party will have a bigger organisation and number of office bearers will increase.” Also, the ‘declining popularity’ of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and some of the government’s controversial moves have come as a shot in the arm for the NC leadership that is averse to reforms, says Khanal. “These issues are going to divert the main issue of reforming the NC.” Another issue historically plaguing the NC is factionalism, one of the major factors for the election defeat. Leaders say the Maha Samiti will also help forge unity in the party. But by the look of things, strengthening factions tops the leaders’ priority list. The real reason for increasing the number of office bearers is to strengthen factions, says political analyst Shreekrishna Aniruddh Gautam. Gautam adds that the Maha Samiti meet’s success will depend on whether it can chart a course for the party to become a formidable political force popular among the masses, especially the youths. “This Maha Samiti can become a milestone if it can make politics a subject of interest among the youths,” says Gautam. “But developments in the run-up to the gathering suggest the meet will just be a formality that will endorse statute amendment on the basis of give and take among a handful of leaders.”