NC General Convention New Generation Should Emerge : Mukti Rijal

The 13th General Convention of the Nepali Congress is scheduled to begin in Kathmandu today, in which over three thousand delegates from around the country are taking part in this interesting and seminal political pageant.

Moreover, international delegates of different fraternal party organisations from far and near, including India and China, have arrived in the capital to attend the convention of this historic party that has a clean credential of having fought struggles for democracy, pluralism and social justice for two-thirds of a century. 

New party leadership

The convention will last for four days, and, most importantly, it is poised to elect a new set of the party leadership to steer and guide the Nepali Congress for the coming consequential years. In fact, the Nepali Congress party convention has been looked with greater attention and curiosity. And it is being speculated that the post-convention Congress will be reinvigorated and reshaped enough to perform a more positively engaging role in national politics.

Of late, leaders from the ruling dispensation have been saying that the Congress is expected to join the government to lay focus on the implementation of the constitution, though the two key party contenders for the post of president - Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba - in an interview with Nepal newsmagazine have ruled out this possibility at least for now.

However, should the major spotlight of the party be placed on the implementation of the constitution, there is no other way than to be part of the government .Being an important part of the government would entitle the party to obtain a lion’s share in the use and utilisation of state power, public resources and goods.

Most importantly, it will elevate the party to an important position to have a say in the onward course of national politics where major issues pertaining to federal reorganisation of the state and elections for different levels of the government  will be deliberated and decided. In the post-convention context, the Nepali Congress would definitely transfix its sight on grabbing a share of the power that would catapult it to becoming a key player in the games and maneuvers played out for using state power.

This convention of the Nepali Congress has been organised in the wake of the unexpected and sad demise of former prime minister and the incumbent party president, Sushil Koirala, who himself was reportedly mulling over competing for the position of the party
president. Had he lived and fought for the party leadership, he would have more or less mustered the support of the so-called establishment faction despite the fact that vice president Ram Chandra Poudel was determined to launch a last ditch battle to contest
for the party president.

In the absence of Sushil Koirala, it was believed that Ram Chandra Poudel would be able to cobble together the support of all the potential aspirants to emerge as the lone bet

rom the establishment side, but he failed to win the much-needed endorsement, which is said to be the chink in his armour. However, the race for the party president seems to be very much competitive. The victory in this political battle will be decided only by a wafer thin margin of the votes.

At this moment, it is very difficult to hazard a guess on the final outcome of the result since both Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel seem to be confident of clinching the win. The way they have more or less managed to woo the major potential aspirants from across the factional divides, the speculation about the final tally has become further difficult.

The optimistic indication that has emerged in this General Convention of the Nepali Congress has been the assertive presence of the new generation of leadership imbued with a deeper understanding and grasp of the  legacy and values of the party. With the star performer and popular youth leader Gagan Thapa in tow, this band of youth leaders

have challenged the conventional party leadership. As Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the great communicator and orator who is said to have played an important role in negotiating the end of the violent Maoist conflict,  and also the incumbent  party general secretary, has tied up with this group of young leaders, pitting for the position of president.

Though this group may not be in a position to clinch the chair, it will impart a significant impact on the final result of the party elections. In fact, there is a need for the young generation of the Nepali Congress leadership to prepare and assert itself to take

over the national responsibility. This is an imperative of the time in view of the fact that the old generational leadership is least capable and prepared  to take on and meet the challenges of the contemporary context in the country.

Politically the party has to confront and compete in the political arena with cadre-based communist parties like the CPN (UML) and UCPN-Maoist while tackling the challenges

resented by the emerging regional and communal political forces in the country. The Nepali Congress needs to establish its organisational base in all the provinces of the country to retain its size, shape and stature as a national party, for which a dynamic and new generational leadership should come forward and guide the organisation.

Connect party to grassroots

Since the key base and structure of the party has dwindled almost getting dried up, especially due to its apathy and inaction to mobilise and organise the party functionaries around its policies and principles, the focus should, therefore, be on how to connect the party to the grassroots.

Late B.P Koirala had remarked way back in the late Sixties when he was battling against the authoritarian polity, while living in exile in India, that the Nepali Congress had run the risk of being reduced to a party with grass but without root deep down in the ground. This is very much relevant today as the party has to survive the challenges presented by  the different social and political forces in the country.

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