Arjun Narshingh KC is a familiar face within the Nepali Congress Party. KC, who was a contender for the party’s general secretary post, lost the election even as his camp’s candidate for presidency, Sher Bahadur Deuba, won with a big margin. OnlineKhabar talked to KC recently about the election, and the ‘Hindu rajya’ line inside Nepal’s oldest surviving party. Translated excerpts:
During the recent party election, your camp’s candidate for president won, but you did not win. What do you think was the reason for this?
In a democracy, it is only natural that someone wins and the other loses. I say that inside the party, there are no losers, there are only winners and ‘runners’. That is why I have accepted the elections’ results. But I have my own analysis about the defeat.
There are three reasons, I believe, that led to my defeat. First, inside my own team, there were some delegates who did not vote for me. There was lot of ‘cross-voting’. Second was the BP Koirala’s legacy factor, and third was Gagan ji’s (Gagan Thapa’s) candidacy. Gaganji’s candidacy also had a psychological impact on my candidacy.
Were you not aware that there was going to be ‘cross-voting’ during the election?
I wasn’t. I spent most of my time trying to strengthen the team; I was trying to get more people to join the team. A team becomes a team when people believe in each other. That is what I did, and I could not think otherwise.
So there was a breach of trust?
I would say cross-voting would be a better term. You could use any term you’d like to describe it.
Do you think this happened at the individual level, or there was a group that was actively involved in it?
There were people who did not agree with me, or were jealous of me. So, not they must have decided not to vote for me because of their collective interests. I do not want to talk about it in detail now as it is an internal matter of the party. More things will emerge in the future. At the end of the day, I lost because I didn’t get enough votes to win. I don’t think it is necessary to anlayse the results further.
Is there any particular name that could be given to the group who voted against you?
I know who the people are. But, I don’t want to take names at the moment. I have always maintained that the party should not be divided based on short-term interests. I do not want anything I say to promote factionalism within the party.
If you can’t take people’s names, could you describe the kind of people you are referring to and their mindset ?
I would not like to talk about other people’s mindset because everyone within Nepali Congress agrees with the party’s principles and ideology. There might be some people who have their own vested interests. There might be some people who do not want to see Arjun Narshingh KC establish himself as a leader. I do not want to waste time thinking about these things. I have better things to do.
Nepali Congress is faced with a multitude of challenges. It needs to bring its own house in order, fully implement the new constitution, cooperate with other democratic forces, and create an environment of national unity. These are the things Nepali Congress should be worried about.
You talked about implementing the new constitution. But there are forces within the party that are challenging the constitution by saying that they want Nepal to become a Hindu state again.
If you ask me, I have no qualms saying that I am a Hindu. But is wrong that the salient features of the constitution are being trampled to demand a rethink on federalism and secularism. Nepali Congress should not trample the constitution prepared in its own leadership and push the country towards instability and chaos.
There are many leaders on the new central committee who are advocating for a Hindu state. They are saying that they will present a proposal on the issue to the committee soon.
You are saying there are ‘many’ leaders. You don’t know that numbers. I do.
Everyone has a right to present a proposal, but Nepali Congress should not be involved in a conspiracy to attack the constitution and make Nepal a failed state.
But during the constitution-making process, you openly advocated against secularism. Have you changed your stance?
My opinion was that religious freedom was what we needed. But in the present context, we have accepted secularism. The issue of religion should not be used to question the legitimacy of the constitution, that is all I am saying.
As we speak, Madheshi parties are preparing for an agitation. How will the party address this?
I have always said that dissent in Madhesh should be addressed. When the constitution was about to be passed, I had said that it should be passed only after the issues raised by the Madheshi parties are addressed. I say that we should be open to listening to the Madheshi people’s demands and their aspirations.
But it seems that the party’s focus is more on the government, and less on this issue.
The convention is over, and we will soon election our leader in Parliament. Then, the central working committee will get a shape. It is only natural that as the largest political party in Parliament, we look pay attention to the government.
Does paying attention to the government meant forming a government under NC’s leadership?
If the situation demands, the party should lead the government. We should act keeping the ground reality, and the political equation. We should also focus on implementing the new constitution.
So, Nepali Congress does not have a claim on the government?
As of now, no. It will depend on the way the government carries itself forward. We will raise issues that the government has not been able to address, in Parliament. We cannot remain silent when inflation, black marketing, and disruption in fuel supplies is taking a toll on the people. We will pressure the government to act, and if it does not listen, we will think about a change in government.