Shashank’s referendum remarks irk Congress

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 23, 2019-

Nepali Congress General Secretary Shashank Koirala’s demand for holding referendum on religion, federalism and republicanism has drawn flak with party leaders warning that such “regressive” statement could put the party in peril.

Talking to journalists on Wednesday, Koirala demanded referendum on

the three key issues against the party’s official line and the country’s constitution.

Several Congress leaders said that major party leaders should have common view on such crucial issues, so as not to confuse the people.

Several leaders including party President Sher Bahadur Deuba, senior leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Shekhar Koirala and youth leader Gagan Thapa have objected to the general secretary’s statement saying that there was no possibility of referring the issues to the people.

Speaking at a function in Kathmandu on Friday, senior Congress leader Shekhar said that it was impossible for the country to backtrack on the federal republican order.

Both Shekhar and Shashank belong to the Koirala clan that led the country’s oldest party for much of its history. Both claim top leadership positions in the party when it holds the next general convention.

Shekhar is openly challenging Deuba’s leadership, accusing the party chief of leading the NC to its weakest position in history.

Referring to the recent statement by Shashank, who is also his close relative, Shekhar said that republi-canism and federalism were swapped with the “blood of martyrs” so it is precious for the party. “Nepali Congress should shoulder the responsibility of institutionalising

achievements like republicanism and federalism.”

“Politics and religion are different,” said Shekhar. “We have to adopt a new law to settle the issue of religion permanently as the constitution of Nepal has accepted secularism, giving everyone freedom to choose and exercise their religious right.”

While celebrating Holi at his residence in Kathmandu, Shashank had said that time had come to hold referendum not only on federalism

and republicanism but also on religious freedom. He wants the country to be reverted to the Hindu state.

Youth leader Gagan Thapa said there was no meaning of casual talk on sensitive issues without discussing them in the party.

In a recently concluded Mahasamiti meeting of the Nepali Congress, some 900 Congress members had demanded restoration of the Hindu state. They submitted a memorandum to the party leadership to reconsider the issue. Several Congress leaders believed that it was also backed by Shashank.

Published: 23-03-2019 20:58

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