“Nepali Congress youth leader Gagan Thapa wants to run for General Secretary”: this was what a reporter based in Dang claimed in his ‘scoop’ recently. But when asked, Gagan neither confirmed nor denied this. He says he is still undecided on which post to contest during the upcoming Nepali Congress Convention.
Here are his options:
1. Contest for place in central committee
2. Contest for General Secretary
3. Demand to be nominated General Secretary
Option # 1
During the previous convention, Thapa was the most popular among central committee members he received more votes than any other contender. Although he might not get as many votes this time, he is certain to win a berth if he decides to contest.
If someone else gets more votes than him, this could be construed as his decline. Those who want to “cut Gagan to size” would be happy and his political career would receive a setback. This is why Gagan would like to aim at something bigger this time.
The other option Gagan has to move upward in the party would to contest for the party’s General Secretary post. But this move is risky. In a party plagued with groupism, Gagan would have to side with either Sushil Koirala or Sher Bahadur Deuba for him to have any shot at the post. Even if he chooses a side, there are other contenders waiting in line (even his own father-in-law Arjun Narsingh KC is in contention), and he would be the last person any faction in the party would consider for the post.
The third option that Gagan has is to lobby to be appointed General Secretary (there are two General Secratries in Nepal Congress, one elected, the other nominated). For this he will have to enter into a gentleman’s agreement with either Koirala or Deuba because both of them are in no mood to make any formal agreement. Since Gagan does not have his own faction (the way Khum Bahadur Khadka has), there is no reason for Koirala or Deuba to court Gagan. There wer talks of adding the post of vice-president and co-general secretary in the party; this could have given some respite to Gagan, but Deuba and his faction have said they will not allow anyone to even ‘touch’ the party’s charter.
For the youth leader, the final option would be to fight for party leadership with Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba. But he knows all too well that his chances of winning are slim. He might also be criticised within the party for being over ambitious, and there is also the risk of humiliation if he does not get at least 200 votes.
But treading this path will have its own rewards. Th dirst is that it will start a debate within the party that the party president need not always be an old man like Sushil Koirala; even youth leaders are capable of shouldering responsibilities. Similarly, if Gagan is able to make sure that neither Koirala or Deuba gets 50 per cent of the votes, he would be able to establish a launch pad for himself, and also establish the fact that he also commands support within the party. This would be a bigger victory than winning the electoral race itself.
But Gagan should also keep in mind that he should not go the way of Narahari Acharya, who had contest the election against Girija Prasad Koirala. It would also be beneficial for him if the contest is three-sided (between Koirala, Deuba and him). If Krishna Sitaula or Ram Chandra Paudel enter the race, it would be wise not to contest this time around.