By accepting all the demands put forth by his opponents led by Ram Chandra Poudel in settling the active membership issue, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has shown that he does not mind compromising to accommodate his colleagues.
However, his competitors and rivals have not reciprocated with him. Soon after signing the agreement, Poudel has issued another statement asking him to release the name of active members.
To find an amicable settlement on the dispute of active membership, both the groups spent weeks of exercise. Issuing another statement demanding publication of the list of members, Poudel has shown that the battle continues. A decision taken after hectic meetings and discussion for weeks remains fragile.
Coordinated by Krishna Prasad Sitaula with two members, Ramesh Lekhak and Minendra Rijal, the task force handed over the consensus document.
As many thought the committee’s report will end the active membership row and the Nepali Congress can hold its 14 general convention as scheduled, senior leader Poudel’s statement has shown that there remain many disputes ahead the convention.
The NC had formed the three-member Task Force led by Sitaula to resolve the active membership dispute after the Active Membership Probe Committee was unable to settle the dispute of some districts.
Following the finalization of the active membership, the village / town ward convention of the Nepali Congress scheduled for September 3 is now set to be held within the stipulated date.
Leaders and cadres have already started to go to districts and villages for the convention. There are nearly 900,000 active members, who are going to cast their votes at the party's village / town ward conventions. According to the party’s statute, the active members can elect their ward committees and regional representatives.
The party has decided to hold its 14th General Convention from November 25-29 in Kathmandu.
The active membership has already been handed over to the party's Central Election Committee after Deuba signed the active membership details. Mahadev Prasad Yadav, coordinator of the Election Committee, informed that the details of the active membership have already been sent to all 77 districts.
According to Yadav, all printing work has been completed and 7,000 to 8,000 bundles of active membership list will be sent to all wards and election committees across the country.
The committee expects the election materials to reach 41 accessible districts within the stipulated time as per the plan. However, the remaining 36 districts in the mountains and remote hills have some transportation challenges.
For the convention, the Election Committee has appointed election officers in all districts from the Democratic Lawyers’ Society (DLS) affiliated legal practitioners who are considered close to the party.
According to the new statute, the NC Central Working Committee will have a total of 168 members including a president, two vice presidents, two general secretaries, eight joint general secretaries, a treasurer and 154 members.
According to the revised calendar of events endorsed by the party’s Central Working Committee, the NC will hold the village and municipal ward level convention on September 3, the village / municipality level convention on September 12, the province assembly regional convention on September 17, the House of Representatives regional convention / district convention with only one constituency will be on September 25.
Similarly, the NC has decided to hold the district level convention with more than one constituency of federal parliament on September 26, the province level convention on October 27 to 29 and the central general convention on November 25 to December 2 in Kathmandu.
As Prime Minister Deuba is spending much of his time in settling the differences within the ruling alliance for the expansion of the cabinet, his detractors in the party led by Poudel have been making efforts to unseat him from the post of party president in the coming General Convention.
Known for his political shrewdness which he has acquired from his onetime mentor Grija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister Deuba too has a big weapon against senior leader Poudel.
As Poudel’s severe political opponent and former associated general secretary Govinda Raj Joshi, whose party general membership is suspended due to the pressure of Poudel and his group, is quietly watching the drama, PM Deuba may use Joshi card against Poudel whenever he feels comfortable.
NC senior leader Poudel has almost lost his political ground in Tanahu district politics due to rivalry with Joshi. Giving political space to Joshi means a blow to Poudel.
Knowing this weakness of Poudel, Prime Minister Deuba does not bother much about the political stunt. Although Poudel and his group have recently launched a massive mob against Deuba organizing protest, it does not reduce the control and influence of Deuba. Given the present circumstances, PM Deuba does not have any alternative inside the party.
“It is unacceptable for us to change the date of general convention. We will not allow Sher Bahadur Jee to manipulate the political position of the party,” said senior leader Poudel. “The list of active members must be corrected and the convention should be held in stipulated date,” demanded Poudel.
Although the general convention has already been deferred twice, it is still uncertain about the coming convention given the upsurge of COVID-19. Despite the efforts of Poudel and his group to challenge Deuba’s leadership, they don’t have political strategists and leaders to stand against PM Deuba. Whether one likes it or not, there is no alternative in the NC right now to replace Deuba’s leadership.