Kathmandu, February 17
With the formation of governments at both central and provincial levels, the Nepali Congress now plans to move ahead with a two-pronged strategy — playing the role of a responsible opposition and working to strengthen the party.
In the provincial and parliamentary elections, the NC faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of the left alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre. The grand old party has been pushed to the opposition seat in both the federal parliament and provincial assemblies. The left alliance has formed the government at the centre and six of the seven provinces, while Madhes-based Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal
have formed government in Province 2.
According to NC leader Nabindra Raj Joshi, now that it is clear that the party will be in opposition for the next five years, it will observe and evaluate political conduct of the ruling parties. “If the left parties get involved in any anti-constitutional activity and act against people’s aspirations we will strongly oppose it by taking into confidence all democratic forces. Having said that, we will also support any work done in the interest of the nation and the people,” he said.
As far as strengthening and reforming the party is concerned, NC leaders have been demanding that the party immediately hold a Central Working Committee meeting followed by Maha Samiti to introspect the crushing defeat in the elections and to chart a course for the party’s revival. Some of the leaders have even demanded special general meeting and change of party leadership, while others have said those aged above 70 years should not hold executive party posts and play the role of guardian.
Besides formation of the left alliance, NC leaders have attributed the election loss majorly to the leadership’s failure to abide by the party statute in running the party, intra-party disputes, factionalism, failure to give shape to various party organs, and failure to effectively mobilise sister organisations.
In this context, the NC plans to convene the CWC meet ‘very soon’ to address the issues plaguing the party. According to NC leader Bal Krishna Khand, who is close to NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, the CWC will focus on giving full shape to party organs, restructuring the party’s organisation in line with the country’s federal set-up, making around 600,000 active members ‘really active’, and evaluating the performance of sister organisations, among other issues.
“The president will table proposals in relation to these issues in the CWC. Also, the need of the hour is discipline and unity. So the issue of institutional discipline will also be discussed,” said Khand.
NC youth leader Guru Ghimire — one of the seven signatories of a public statement issued after the election loss demanding party reform — said the starting point for the party’s reform should be rebuilding its relationship with the people.
“Over the past years, the party had been involved in the fight for democracy, transition management and government. In this course, we forgot to maintain a close relationship with the people, and the same has been reflected in the elections,” he said, adding that since the context had now changed, the party should be able to convince the people why they should join the NC or vote for it.
Joshi also expressed a similar view. Acknowledging that the party failed to effectively communicate with the people and convince them, he said the party should now raise at central and provincial levels the issues facing the general public at the local level and get them addressed.
“Also, the party should strongly raise the issue of corruption, one of the major issues frustrating the people. This way we can regain the people’s trust,” he said.
Besides reorganising the party structure in line with the new federal set up and giving full shape to all the party organs, Joshi said the party should also target and welcome the youths by ensuring that all the party workers get equal opportunity. “For this, we have to have ideological honesty and clarity. I think we have also lagged behind other parties in terms of imparting ideological training on our members.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 18, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.