Singh versus Deuba likely in NC PP leader election

Kathmandu, February 27

It’s likely to be a contest between Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and former general secretary Prakash Man Singh, as the party prepares to hold its parliamentary party leader election on March 5.

Although Deuba is under pressure from the camp led by senior NC leader Ramchandra Paudel not to eye the PP leader’s post after election defeat, leaders close to Deuba say the party cannot afford to have ‘two power centres’ amid rampant factionalism. Also, Singh is in no mood to back off from his stance that a ‘failed leader’ such as Deuba should not be allowed to be elected uncontested.

Another aspirant for the PP leader post, Shashank Koirala, has said he will file his candidacy only if he if he is elected unanimously.

Leaders close to Deuba, who are in majority in the NC parliamentary party, have been lobbying for Deuba as PP leader to ‘avoid further dispute in the party’. “The need of the hour is unity and discipline within the party. So two power centres at this point in time will further exacerbate division,” said NC leader Bal Krishna Khand, who is close to Deuba.

Stating that Deuba would continue to remain the party’s president until the next general convention, Khand said a single person remaining at the helm of the party and the parliamentary party would be ideal for maintaining unity. “The possibility of further dispute increased after some leaders, especially senior leader Ramchandra Paudel, held Deuba alone responsible for the election defeat in a statement that he published. Things that should have been resolved internally are being brought to the public,” he said. “So if there’s unanimous selection of PP leader it’s Deuba. Or else, there will be an election.”

On the other hand, Singh, who represents the Paudel camp, said he would not allow Deuba to be elected unopposed. He is of the view that Deuba, who has proven a failure as both the PM and party president, should not eye the PP leader’s post.

“A failed leader continuing at the helm means further weakening of the party. If Deuba goes for selection of PP leader acceptable to all on the basis of consensus, that’s different. But if he contests the election, I will also file nomination,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NC parliamentary party leader election committee today came up with a schedule for the polls.

According to member of the committee Nabindra Raj Joshi, the election will be held on March 5 from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

The committee will publish the electoral roll on March 4 at 4:30pm immediately after the swearing-in of members of Parliament.

The time for filing nomination has been set between 5:45pm to 7:15pm, while complaints can be lodged till 7:45pm.

The candidates can withdraw their candidacy from 8:00pm on March 4 to 8:00am on March 5 before the election begins at 10:00 am.