Five people have said they will contest for the leadership of Nepali Congress: Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Paudel, Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Sujata Koirala.
Deuba, Paudel and Sushil are main contenders
Paudel needs Sushil’s support
Sujata and Sitaula will bargain for vice-president
Advantage Deuba if both Paudel and Sushil contest
Ram Chandra’s strategy
On Wednesday, Ram Chandra said, “No force can stop me from becoming the party president.” Paudel, who recently returned from New Delhi, makes no qualms about it. The party VP says the top post would be an obvious advancement in his political career. But, in a party known for its factionalism, Paudel does not command a strong camp.
Paudel, who has been siding with party chief Koirala, would need Koirala’s backing.
Paudel, who has been siding with party chief Koirala, would need Koirala’s backing. However, if Koirala decides to join the race, it would be advantage Deuba as Paudel-Koirala loyalists’ vote would be divided.
Paudel, in relative terms, is seen as a more ‘simple’ leader in the grand old party, compared to Deuba. He has proven his ability to do fieldwork, and he has a special leaning towards BP’s socialism. For this reason, Paudel is a better candidate than Deuba to carry out an economic revolution.
Paudel has been overseeing the party’s training division, and this has taken him to different parts of the country. He hopes party voters recognise him for this and vote for him.
Party members also seem to believe that Paudel has Delhi’s backing. There are members who believe that Paudel decided to contest because he was told to do so by external forces. Paudel has been taking a softer stand on the Madheshi issue, and saying that Congress should not join the KP Oli government. Oli, meanwhile, wants the NC to join his government after the party’s general convention is over.
Sujata says no place for old timers
Just like Paudel, another member of the Koitala coterie, Sujata Koirala also wants the presidency. “This time I am contesting, and my victory is assured,” Koirala told Onlinekhabar. “People look at those wearing new clothes, not those who wear old clothes. There is no space for old timers in the party, the youth need to take the part forward; and I can lead the youth.”
GP Koirala’s daughter Sujata does not have a separate camp, the way Paudel does. She also wants Sushil Koirala’s backing. She says, “I have already told Sushil da that he will have to support me.”Although Paudel and Sujata belong to the same faction, Sujata wants Congress to be a part of the government. Her action plan is to join the government, and make the party number one in the elections.
Sujata has inferred that Sushil made a mistake by contesting against Oli for prime minister.
Sujata has inferred that Sushil made a mistake by contesting against Oli for prime minister. She believes that this cost the party the presidency. Sujata’s bid to join the government seems to help the Oli government, but this might just raise the southern neighbour’s eyebrow. India has been keeping the Koiralas at a distance ever since the GP Koirala era, and after the BJP came to power, the establishment faction does not have boding with India. In the ast few days, India seems to be projecting Deuba and Paudel as its leaders of choice.
That Sujata, who has better ties with China, believes a big force is out to campaign against her, and Paudel’s rhetoric that no force can stop him has been seen as a reflection of foreign micromanagement within the party.
Sujata is a woman, and this could get her some sympathy votes. Sujata wants to become party president at a time when both the President and the Speaker are women. But many believe that just like Paudel might let go of his ambition if offered prime minister-ship, Sujata might withdraw from the race if she is assured the post of party vice-president. She, however, insists she will contest, come what may.
Sitaula, the other contender
Although Sitaula, who is the nominated general secretary of the party, has not said he wants to run for president, his aides are confident that he will.
Since Sitaula has been moving one step up every election, his position of choice would be vice-president.
Sitaula, a member of Koirala camp, is in great distress. Since Sitaula has been moving one step up every election, his position of choice would be vice-president. But the Koirala faction is in no mood to back Sitaula for vice-president–neither is Paudel or Deuba. Sources say that if any faction offers him the post, he will withdraw from the race.
Sushil in distress
Sushil Koirala is the one in greatest distress in Nepali Congress. Paudel, Sujata and Sitaula are all member of his camp, and he needs to manage all their ambitions to make way for himself. Even if he does not contest, he would have to back Paudel, and propose and amendment to the charter to accommodate two vice-presidents (Sujata and Sitaula).
Will it be Deuba’s day?
Deuba is in a mood to land party leadership using any means possible. The situation is such that if not for this time, there is not going to be a next time for him. His work has been cut out–thanks to the three-sided contest within the Koirala camp.
The ruling party believes that if Deuba wins, Congress could join the government.
In the past few days, Deuba, who was traditionally courted by western powers, has come closer to India. But India invited both Deuba and Paudel to Delhi, continuing its policy of supporting both sides of a conflict.There could be two reasons for this move: to not to let Sushil and Paudel reconcile their differences, and to curry favour with Paudel and Deuba (if the contest ends up being between them). Congress’ election is certain to effect national politics. Deuba has created an image that does no go well with the Tharus and the Madheshis. This could be a big challenge for the former Prime Minister.
The ruling party believes that if Deuba wins, Congress could join the government. But Deuba also may want to project his power by bringing down the Oli government, and taking the reigns for himself.
Sujata articulated it well,” Deuba and Paudel are equally responsible as Sushil for squandering the party’s opportunity to land the country’s presidency.”