Youth Leadership In NC
NEPALI Congress has been thrown into dilemma due to its diminished position in the elections held seven months ago for federal and provincial and local layers of the government. The party has been gasping for fresh lease of life, and its leadership is engaged in working out strategy as to how to take on the left government that is enjoying an absolute hold on the three layers of the government. Undoubtedly, it was speculated that the party would face tough electoral competition in face of the combined Left strength.
However, the defeat of the key leaders of the party had not been thought of. Who had hazarded a guess that the senior party leaders like Ram Chandra Poudel, Shekhar Koirala, Bimalendra Nidhi who had come along the winning streak throughout their political career would tumble to lose the electoral battle out to their lesser known and nondescript communist rivals. The defeat has fueled critical dissidence in the party especially as the incumbent leadership heading the party has been blamed for electoral debacle. The fingers have been pointed at the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba who had headed the government as prime minister accusing that his flip-flop on the national issues and other sensitive subjects made the party unpopular in the eyes of the people. There were some issues in which NC leadership role was also meted out with severe criticism like registering impeachment motion against the then chief justice Sushila Karki, envoy appointment and so on. But the party president and his cohorts have defended that it was not the fault of the single leader like Deuba to produce electoral disaster for the party.
Though the party’s dip in popularity might have been contributed by several factors, the immediate cause for the poor show of the party in the polls is definitely by reason of the combined strength of the Left Alliance that holds extensively entrenched organisational base armed with committed party cadres and functionaries throughout the country. In fact, CPN -UML alone was predicted to claim the largest number of the seats in the federal and provincial parliament. When UML combined with the Maoist Centre pledging to go for party integration and unification, cadres and functionaries closed their ranks to campaign in favour of the Left alliance candidates.
Given the shabby organisational shape of the Nepali Congress with its emphasis on the mass base, the poor electoral outcome in the last election was obvious and natural. Though the mass based parties like Nepali Congress have their own advantages due to their wider, cross-sectional and cross-territorial appeal, the cadre-based communist parties enjoy the added leverage. They can use and mobilise their functionaries aggressively to pursue the single agenda to win the elections. The mass appeal is always based on persuasive values and principles whereas the cadres are tied together by doctrines, commitment and discipline. In societies like ours the latter kind of party organisation has an advantage over the former. Nepali Congress, therefore, needs to shore up its organisational base and strength, intensify campaign for new political recruitment and bolster the esteem and confidence of the party workers and sympathisers to meet the Left Alliance in the political competition.
Nepali Congress should opt for scouting for new firebrand leadership that can fire off the zeal of party workers and ordinary people. Some youth leaders of the party have called for the change of leadership with a view to facelift the organisation for making it more vigorous competitive and combative. In fact, the last thirteenth general convention of Nepali Congress had witnessed the assertive presence of the new generation of leadership. Popular youth leader Gagan Thapa had challenged the conventional party leadership. Krishna Prasad Sitaula had tied up with this group of young leaders pitting for the position of the president. Though this group was not in a position to clinch the major position, it had imparted a significant impact on the final tally of the party elections. In fact, there has been a need for the young generation of Nepali Congress youth leadership should prepare and assert oneself to take over the mantle of responsibility.
This is an imperative of the time in view of the fact that the old generational leadership has been tested time and again. It seems that this old fashioned type leadership is least prepared to take on and meet the challenges of the contemporary context in the country. Politically, the party has to confront and compete in political arena with cadre-based communist parties that have come together though the popularity of the left government is taking downward slide. There are also social and political challenges presented by the emerging regional and communal political forces in the country including the conflict between the federal and provincial governments.
Nepali Congress needs to entrench its organisational base in all the provinces of the country to retain and keep maintain its size, shape and stature as the national party for which dynamic new generation leadership should come forward and guide the organisation. Since the base and structure of the party has been dwindled especially due to its apathy and inaction to mobilise and organise the party functionaries around the policies and principles, the focus should therefore lay on how to connect the party to the grassroots. Late BP Koirala had remarked way back in the late sixties when he was battling against the authoritarian Panchayat polity that the Nepali Congress has run the risk of being reduced to party with grass but without root deep down in the ground. This is very much relevant today as the weakened party has to survive the challenges presented by different social and political forces in the country.