Freedom within

Finally, the Nepali Congress is to hold its 11th general convention between September 30 and October 2 in Kathmandu. Originally slated for March in Pokhara, the convention had been postponed following the February 1 royal takeover. A five-member panel has been appointed to draft an amended party statute, to be put before the convention for the seal of approval. Calls are growing within the Congress for changes in its fundamental document, including its organisational set-up, for greater internal democracy, as well as for a review of its existing policies, e.g. towards the monarchy and towards the Maoists, in view of the royal takeover and continuing political and constitutional deadlock in the country. The Congress forms part of the seven-party movement for the restoration of democracy.

The postponement was natural under circumstances created by the February 1 step. However, under the relatively relaxed atmosphere, holding the general convention is a right decision, as the leadership, enjoying a fresh mandate of the party rank and file, will be filled with more vigour to tackle the dauting tasks ahead, including the restoration of democracy. The Congress, and now the seven-party alliance, have made the restoration of the Lower House as their principal demand in a security situation generally deemed unsuitable for the holding of general elections. For these reasons, this convention will be different from the party’s earlier conventions and therefore far more important. To enable the Congress to take on the serious challenges facing it and the country with courage and wisdom, any statute amendment should provide for greater internal democracy. For this, the changes should include the abolition of the system of appointing about half the total strength of the central working committee, or at least a considerable cut in the number of such appointees. Things will not be easy for the Congress as in the multi-party days of the past, and it cannot afford to be self-complacent. It should review its past policy, its mistakes and strengths, and chart a new, clear course for itself. Above all, it should be able to emerge as a revitalised party if it is to play a key role in shaping the course of the nation at this critical juncture in Nepali history.