One should not be surprised if the NC's general convention is postponed till early next year as the objective is to secure petty individual interests amidst fierce political infighting. Rumours are resonating in the political arena that the NC may evade the risk of being labelled invalid by paying the fine

The postponement of the general convention of the Nepali Congress did not surprise anybody as it was very much in the cards in view of the inaction rife in the party. Its president, Sher Bahadur Deuba, is marooned neck deep with the affairs of the state as the Prime Minister of the newly formed coalition. Consequently, the party is like a rudderless ship across troubled waters in the absence of necessary command from its leader.

It is not that the Nepali Congress is the only one on this postponement spree around the world.

There have been more than 15 shifts in Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Even the Middle East had five deferrals.

Many parties such as the Democratic Party of the United States also postponed the July convention till August in 2020 due to the exponential surge in the coronavirus.

In this context, the postponement of the Nepali Congress appears to be justified.

But this is far from the truth if one delves deeply into the evolving political developments.

It has been stipulated in the constitution of the Nepali Congress that it has to hold the convention every four years. Accordingly, it had to organise the convention in February 2020as the convention was held in 2016. For no rhyme or reason, it postponed the convention by one year to February 2021.

The coronavirus had not yet taken the country by storm. It was thus caught napping for a full year. The lockdown was imposed only on March 24, 2020.

Later, it found a very good pretext in the corona upsurge and postponed it by six months till early September.

But the launching of the convention by September also has been deferred to December later this year.

The postponement has been made on the flimsy ground that dispute has been brewing on the finalisation of the active members.

The failure to hold the convention by the middle of August is fraught with dangers like removal from the list of the Election Commission.

The convention forms the spine of any political party. Because it not only elects the party leader for the four years to come but also takes policy decisions on the roadmap of the party targeted at the victory in the forthcoming election.

The birth place of the party convention is the United States, which saw the first convention being held in 1831, the year when Nepal was ruled by the all mighty Bhimsen Thapa.

Before this, the candidates were chosen by what was then known as a caucus.

But the caucus started being derided as King Caucus due to the corruption in the nomination process,thereby giving way to the convention.

The conventions were also criticised, leading to the primary elections. The primary elections nominate the candidates for the state and local elective offices subject to the endorsement of the nominated candidates by the convention.

Britain also should have convoked the convention around that time because the Conservative Party of Britain was founded around 1834, a year when Nepal was jolted by a killer earthquake. In the conference, the main attraction is the speech of the party leader.

Similarly, the Indian National Congress conference was summoned in 1885 in Bombay for the first time.

The party was founded by Allan Octavian Hume who was a retired civil service servant. This party later evolved into the Indian Congress of today.

The Nepali Congress conducted its first conference in India in Calcutta after its formation in the year 1949.

After the restoration of democracy in 1990, it called its first conference in Kalabalgudhi, Jhapa when politician Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was elected as its president.

The last conference was organised in 2016 when Deuba became its president.

Party conferences have thus a very glorious and old history going back to close to 200 years.

Unfortunately, such a nostalgic serial of events of the past appears to have been ignored by the present politicians.

This anomaly has raised its ugly head due to the selfish motive of the NC party leaders to cling to power by hook or by crook. It is specially so by the elder leaders whose insatiable thirst for power has led to the present sorry state of affairs.

The conference could not take place in time because the party leadership felt insecure due to the historic defeat faced in the election. In the following days, COVID-19 played havoc in the country. It was coupled with the infighting in the ruling party.

It is at this juncture that the crown of the head of government was torn apart from the head of KP Sharma Oli and fell on the head of Deuba from virtually nowhere.

Nobody had imagined that a government holding a near two-thirds majority would disintegrate, apart from Deuba's solitary astrologer who had predicted his comeback.

Prime Minister Deuba has displayed political frailty by not being able to form a full-size cabinet even after one month. Nor during his earlier stints as the Prime Minister had he achieved anything memorable.

In fact, his earlier terms as the Prime Minister have been marked by the rise of the Maoists, the hijacking of parliamentarians, the doling out of Prados and Pajeros as well as handing over democracy to the palace to mention a few. In the twilight of his political carrier, he has, however, been bestowed with a golden opportunity to correct his past mistakes.

One should not be surprised if the convention is postponed till early next year as the objective is to secure petty individual interests amidst fierce political infighting.

Rumours are resonating in the political arena that the NC may evade the risk of being labelled invalid by paying the fine. Such a course will be very unfortunate for the Nepali Congress as it will dilute its charisma that it has built among the people like no other party in the country.

Pokharel is IP Vice Chancellor, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology

A version of this article appears in the print on August 20 2021, of The Himalayan Times.