KATHMANDU, April 15: Nepali Congress General Secretary Shashank Koirala has intensified works to bring all the disgruntled groups under one umbrella as he throws his hat in the ring to be the next leader at the helm of the grand old party.
NC leaders said that Koirala, who last week announced to challenge party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, has been holding talks with senior leaders who are critical of the party establishment, including Ram Chandra Poudel, Arjun Narshing KC, Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Ram Sharan Mahat.
The move, if it succeeds in bearing fruits, would greatly weaken Deuba's grip on power and may even force him to step down or press him to rethink on his decision to run for the second term in office.
Pressure has been mounting on NC President Deuba to hand over the helm of the party to a new leader ever since the party suffered humiliating defeats in the three tiers of elections. But Deuba has openly rejected the idea citing lack of strong candidate to replace him.
Party insiders said that General Secretary Koirala, who has publicly pitched himself as the next leader of the party, is looking to build a strong alliance against Deuba by bringing various factions at one place. By doing so, he is trying to project himself as the only one who could replace Deuba.
Koirala seems to have achieved some success in bringing the disgruntled factions together. Factions led by Poudel, KC and Sitaula have been fielding consensus candidate against the establishment camps in the ongoing elections of the party's sister wings, putting Deuba's camps under immense pressure. NC senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel said that their immediate agenda is to amend the party statute and pave way for the early general convention. He said that most of the leaders in the Central Working Committee are in favor of early Mahasamitee, the central decision making body of the party.
"There should not be further delays in calling the Mahasamitee. The leadership should not turn deaf ears to the calls from the cadres," said Poudel.
But it is still unclear whether Koirala will gain any success keeping the coalition intact until the next general convention as several other leaders have openly staked claim on the party's helm. Singh had even fought against Deuba in the recently held party's parliamentary party elections.
Last week, NC spokesperson Bishwo Prakash Sharma had said that the issue of Mahasamitee would be discussed in the party central committee meeting which was suddenly put off due to the ultimate demise of party leader Khum Bahadur Khadka.