KATHMANDU, Dec 24: The rank and file of Nepali Congress (NC) now a daunting challenge for the revival of the grand old party and to keep it afloat in the new power equation following its stinging defeat in the parliamentary and provincial elections.
Although the proportional votes have NC slightly ahead of CPN (Maoist Center) in overall results of the elections held on November 26 and December 7, the seats won by the party is far from enough to form government at the center or any of the seven provinces. This is a huge setback for the party which has remained in power most of the time since the restoration of democracy in 1990.
While the defeat may have ended the party's prospect of returning to power, it has sparked a much-needed debate on how to restore the lost glory of the party long plagued by factionalism and weak leadership.
In wake of the historic defeat, many NC leaders have been pushing the leadership to take necessary measures to reform the ailing party to gain back its support in its core constituencies. Many are pressing for rethinking the party's stance on key political and constitutional issues.
Despite consensus on the need for reforms, there are differing views among the party leaders on whether the reforms are possible from the current leadership. While NC leaders like Ram Chandra Poudel, Gagan Thapa, Prakash Man Singh have asked the current leadership to resign to pay way for new faces, several other leaders considered close to party President Sher Bahadur Deuba have stood for giving continuity to the current leadership.
"Everyone should take their share of responsibility and work together to reform the party. Blaming one person for the poll debacle at this point is not helpful for the party and will distract us from pressing issues at hand," said NC leader Bal Krishna Khand, ruling out the possibility of immediate change in party leadership. However, he said that there could be change in the leadership in the long run.
Poudel told Republica that the current leadership should be ready to hand over the party to new faces taking moral responsibility of the poll debacle and respecting the wishes of the party cadres.
"There should be sincere efforts to accommodate all side and strengthen the party before taking steps for leadership change," said Paudel.