Nobody expected that the Nepali Congress top leaders would give consent to expel the senior-most and die-hard Nepali Congress leader Govinda Raj Joshi from the party. When the party follows the whim of some leaders, unexpected and unusual decisions will be part of the party. Joshi’s case was no exception.
Expressing resentment over the party’s decision, Binod Bhattarai, a nephew of Nepali Congress founding father Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, tendered his resignation from the active membership of the party.
Known for his strong political strength, Joshi had been given a prominent role in expanding and building the party organization at the grass-root level from the very beginning. From his early student days six decades ago, Joshi joined the mission of the Nepali Congress to restore the liberal democratic order in the country.
He worked with party leadership including BP Koirala, GP Koirala and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to expand the party organization. As he started to work, senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel also joined with Joshi in the mission. However, their comradeship started to turn sour after the restoration of democracy in 1990.
Backed by Girija Prasad Koirala, Joshi made a political rise that was unparalleled to his one-time friend turned die-hard foe Poudel, who saw Joshi as the single most threat to his political career. Waiting for an opportune time to kick Joshi out, Poudel found the time was now.
With political compromise and give-and-take with Deuba, who is facing stiff competition in the coming convention for the post, Poudel was able to expel Joshi from the party. In the give and take, Deuba expelled other leaders of far-west, including Pushkar Ojha. However, this decision will also be the death knell of Poudel’s own politics in the district and Deuba’s wife Dr. Arju Deuba Rana.
Although no one took issue with the decision, including the Koirala’s clan Dr. Shekhar Koirala and Dr. Shashanka Koirala, for whom Joshi took all risks defending them, Dr. Shekhar Koirala issued a formal statement expressing his resentment against it.
However, young leader Dr. Minendra Rijal proved himself to be more liberal than any others by issuing a heart-touching statement on Twitter. “I read the name of our colleagues at the party, read the punishment. I have yet to come to terms. Built by BP Koirala, I am much concerned whether our party is gradually losing a liberal democratic character,” tweeted NC young leader Dr. Minendra Rijal.
Spending more than 8 years in prison during the struggle against Panchayat, Joshi shed his blood for the party. “I have blood relations with the party,” said Joshi reacting to the decision. The four members of the committee who recommended expelling senior leader Joshi were earlier expelled from the party for their anti-party activities.
The decision of the Nepali Congress Discipline Committee to expel strongmen Joshi and Ojha is rejected by a large number of Congress leaders and workers. Deuba and Poudel both take this as their personal victory. However, this is not the first incident in the Nepali Congress to victimize die-hard Congress leaders in the internal political feud.
After almost three years, Nepali Congress Discipline Committee has expelled former minister and leader Joshi and two others from the party for a period of five years.
The other two include former minister of state and Member of Mahasamiti Ojha and secretary of Nepali Congress Dadeldhura Ram Bahadur Bisht.
The Committee expelled Joshi and Ojha for five years and Bisht for three years. They were expelled for violating the party’s discipline. According to the decision of the party, all of them were expelled because they conspired against the official candidates in the local, provincial and central elections.
Whatever the reasons were given, the expulsion of Joshi is merely a personal political vendetta by Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Joshi suffered political humiliation due to his rivalry with party president Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel. Ojha was kicked out from the party to create a safe constituency for Deuba’s wife Arju Deuba in Sudurpaschim.
Joshi’s rivalry with Deuba and Poudel remains old. When Joshi, who served as joint General Secretary of the Party, Deuba and Poudel were central committee members and both of them were in anti-Koirala camp.
Joshi was in a key position in the party when most of the members of the current discipline committee were expelled from the party for their role to split Nepali Congress.
However, in politics, everything is justified. Political heavyweights are sacrificed in the course of making a dirty alliance. Nepali Congress is not much different.
Expelling NC leader and former minister Govinda Raj Joshi from the party for five years, NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba has shown how ruthless he can be in politics.
Although his decision is taken to please his arch-rival Ram Chandra Poudel, who has been in knee and jerk, arguing for the expulsion of Joshi following his elections debacle in Tanahu, it will also pave the way to end the election career of Poudel as well.
The expulsion will put Joshi at bay in the Congress politics. However, it cannot stop Joshi to mobilize his supporters against Poudel. Doing this, Deuba, who split the party in 2002 and constituted Nepali Congress Democratic, has also weakened Poudel in his home town but also bowled out strong loyalist of Koirala from the party.
Joshi, who has spent his entire life in Nepali Congress politics and has a strong base in Tanahu, will now use all his strength to end Poudel’s elections politics. Joshi’s expulsion from formal Congress politics will also be a major loss to Koirala clans who are vying for leadership of the party.
Joshi, who has backed Koirala in entire Nepali Congress politics, was betrayed by young Koirala at a time of his crisis in the party. What a political drama, young Koirala supported Poudel, who stood for entire his political career against Koirala.
Along with Joshi, Deuba also expelled Puskar Ojha, another loyalist and the strong hand of Koirala and Poudel from Sudupaschim. Ojha was accused of supporting the rebel candidate against Deuba’s spouse Arju Deuba.
Expulsion political stalwarts and heavyweights like Joshi is not the first time in Nepali Congress. The party also expelled one time its ideal B.P. Koirala as well. One of the tragic parts of the history of the Nepali Congress is that it does not tolerate strong men.
After the decision of expulsion of NC leader Joshi and Ojha, Koiralas have lost their pillar in Gandaki and Sudurpaschim. This will also open for free rivalry within the congress against Poudel and Deuba.
THAPA JOINED CONGRESS
Just 24 hours after the decision to expel two stalwarts of Nepali Congress senior leader Govinda Raj Joshi and leader Pushkar Ojha, former general secretary of Rashtriya Prajatantra Party Sunil Bahadur Thapa, son of a veteran politician of erstwhile Panchayat and former Prime Minister late Surya Bahadur Thapa, has joined Nepali Congress along with his supporters.
Thapa, who just a week ago quit his mother party RPP showing his displeasure over the party’s new order, entered Nepali Congress amid a function at Nepali Congress central office Teku.
In presence of NC senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel, Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat and other senior leaders, Deuba welcomed Thapa and announcement of Joint General Secretary of Nepali Congress.
During the welcoming program, Deuba has announced that Thapa is appointed joint General Secretary of the party.
Welcoming Thapa in the party, Deuba said that the entry of Thapa to the Nepali Congress will help to strengthen democratic forces in Nepal paving the way to fight the communist government.
Thapa said that he quit his mother's party after growing the difference over secularism and monarchy. He said he is entering the party unconditionally.
At a time when Nepali Congress is itself in a deep division and there is growing disenchantment among the party’s rank and file, how hardcore Congress workers will treat him in the party remain to be seen.