Convention fever has already gripped Nepali Congress. There is a tight race between establishment faction and senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba faction to take the leadership of party. There is vertical division at party rank and file regarding the new leadership of the party.
But, very few or no attention has been paid on ideological and policy issues of the convention.
Details of the draft
The preliminary policy draft prepared by Acting President Ram Chandra Poudel states that the issues of Madhes and implementation of constitution would be prime agenda of the party in the convention. According to leaders, convention which will take place on March 3-6 will come up with a clear road-map on how to resolve the issues of Madhes.
Similarly, it will take a lead in the implementation of constitution though it has not been defined what is meant by leadership. The preliminary draft states that some specific development projects should be formulated for the southern belt to uplift the social and economic condition of the people.
The draft further states that party should respect the autonomy of the Madhes and Madhesi people should be provided due identity. The party is already trying to take a credit of first amendment to constitution which ensured proportional inclusion of Madhesi people in the state mechanism and delimitation of electoral constituencies giving primacy to Madhes.
The documents have given continuity to the principle of democratic socialism as a base of its economic policy. Agriculture and labour are two priority issues of Congress which was first propagated by NC government in late 1950s.
After 1990, party focused on economic liberalisation and open economy. “Now, NC will give priority to agriculture, tourism and enhancing the human capacity,” the draft says. Regarding party’s foreign policy, NC document states that a friendly, balanced relation will be the maintained with neighbouring countries India and China.
Party leaders, however, are not impressed by the policy prepared by Poudel-led panel. They say the issue of policy and ideological issues has been just a ritual in the previous convention. Usually, Poudel himself takes the responsibility of preparing party’s ideology.
Youth leaders Gagan Thapa, Pradeep Poudel and Gururaj Ghimire have come up with a new proposal for revamping the party ideology and party structures. They are of the view that time has come to redefine party’s definition of democracy, democratic socialism and nationalism.
Three leaders are of the view that only a vibrant party structure with clear ideological path could take the leadership of the country which is the key for the implementation of newly adopted constitution. “As per the changed context of the country, there is a need of change of party’s principles and ideals. We should end the factionalism and ad hoc culture in the society,” the document says.
On the Madhesh
Regarding the Madhes crisis, three NC leaders have said that party should not merely see Madhes as its vote bank. “If the party fails to address the aspirations of Madhes-based parties, implementation of constitution would be very tough,” the common document of three leaders says. NC leaders also advised the top leaders to handle the geopolitical situation in a serious and matured way.
Youth leaders of NC are pressing to press party leadership to give high priority to issues like employment creation, economic development, and social justice, among others.
Regarding the organizational structures, party leaders have suggested to change the current provision of electoral system at local level. They have proposed holding direct election of village, districts and provinces.
Along with ideological issues, statute amendment issue has not taken top priority in NC as convention date draws closer. The new statute should be made constitution friendly but there has not been progress due to the dispute between establishment faction and Deuba faction. Second-rung leaders of the party say there have not been any intensive discussions at party rank and file.