Busy establishment side throws leaders into tizzy

  • Faction split into three camps with Poudel, Sitaula and Sujata deciding to enter the fray
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Mar 3, 2016-

Is a disaster in the making in the establishment faction of the Nepali Congress?With three leaders putting their hats in the ring for the post of party presidency, the establishment faction of the Nepali Congress has vertically split into three camps.

On Wednesday, it was a series of announcements, which threw NC General Convention representatives of the establishment faction, who are already in the Capital to participate in the jamboree, into a sort of tizzy. 

Acting President Ram Chandra Poudel announced his candidacy for the party presidency at the party headquarters in Sanepa, while General Secretary Krishna Prasad Koirala made public his intentions in Battisputali.

Though many were not expecting, Central Working Committee (CWC) member Sujata Koirala too went ahead with her candidacy announcement. The announcements came just a day before the NC starts its 13th General Convention.Poudel and Sitaula also announced their running mates for general secretary, while Sujata made no announcements of her team. 

As per NC’s statute, party president, one general secretary and treasurer are elected through direct voting. Vice-president, one general secretary and one joint general secretary will be appointed by the party president after convention. 

Separate announcements from the three leaders came on Wednesday after several rounds of negotiations aimed at finding a consensus candidate from the establishment failed to yield result. 

Wednesday’s development may have befuddled the leaders of the establishment faction, but it caused considerable mirth among leaders and cadres of the camp led by senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba—the sole candidate for the top job from his side. 

Deuba, who is keenly watching the development in the establishment camp, is planning to announce his candidacy only on Thursday. Deuba is also planning to rope in some influential leaders from the establishment faction. Deuba’s candidate for the post of general secretary will be Arjun Narasingh KC who has already announced his candidacy. According to sources, Chitra Lekha Yadav, the current treasurer, will fight for the same post from the Deuba camp. 

Poudel has picked Shashank Koirala, son of veteran NC leader BP Koirala as his candidate for the post of general secretary. 

According to sources, Poudel is likely to appoint CWC member Ram Sharan Mahat as general secretary if he is elected party president. At a programme organised at the party headquarters in Sanepa, General Secretary Prakash Man Singh proposed Poudel’s name for the post of party president and Mahat seconded it. 

“The country is in a very difficult situation. So we need an effective leadership with a clear vision to tackle the problem,” Poudel said during his candidacy announcement programme. 

According to NC leader Puranjan Acharya, Poudel chose Shashank for the post of general secretary to draw the support of NC representatives who are sympathetic to the Koirala clan. Poudel is yet to pick the candidate for treasurer. According to leaders, it will be finalised by Friday. 

On the other hand, Sitaula has picked Gagan Thapa, a popular youth leader, as his candidate for the post general secretary. Uma Kant Chaudhary has been named as candidate for the post of treasurer. Sitaula’s strategy is based on drawing youth votes through Thapa and Madhes votes through Chaudhary. Chaudhary was health minister in 2006.

“Ideology matters in politics, not the family legacy. I have given candidacy to make the change meaningful,” said Sitaula. Someone who failed many politics watchers on Wednesday was Sujata Koirala. Announcing her candidacy, Sujata said she “is the appropriate character to implement the newly adopted constitution”. “I have a vision 

on how to address the Madhes problem and implement the new constitution; I will not back down,” said Sujata.

 

Ram Chandra Poudel

The main strength of Ram Chandra Poudel is the backing of Koirala family. According to leaders, there is a good chunk of voters who are naturally close to the Koirala clan, just because of their unwavering reverence for the late NC leader BP Koirala. Prakash Man Singh, son of veteran NC leader and a Poudel ally, has strong following in Kathmandu and surrounding districts. He had visited 74 out of 75 districts in the run-up to the convention and enjoys a good rapport with party cadres. Similarly, influential leaders like Ram Sharan Mahat and Minendra Rijal among others have thrown their weight behind Poudel. 

Shashank Koirala

General Secretary

Krishna Sitaula

Krishna Prasad Sitaula has a strong hold in Jhapa, Kavre and other eastern districts. Sitaula’s role as late Girija Prasad Koirala’s man Friday was instrumental in bringing then rebel Maoist party into mainstream politics. After the second Constituent Assembly elections, he played a key role in the drafting and promulgation of the constitution. Sitaula is seen as an astute leader with the insight to recognise opportunities and challenges and ability to realign leaders and cadres. This is clearly manifested in his decision to pick Uma Kant Chaudhary for the post of treasurer, as he could draw Madhes votes. According to party insiders, Sitaula is expected to garner around 300 votes. 

 

Gagan Thapa

General Secretary

Uma Kant Chaudhary 

Treasurer

Sujata Koirala

When it comes to Sujata Koirala, party leaders say it is not certain whether she will follow through on her announcement.  There is a section in the NC that has always received protection and support from Sujata. 

Published: 03-03-2016 08:00

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