KATHMANDU, June 17: At a time when speculations are rife that Nepali Congress (NC) General Secretary Shashank Koirala was getting closer to President Sher Bahadur Deuba, severing his allegiance to the rival faction led by Ram Chandra Paudel, a key leader of the rival faction, Shekhar Koirala has held a meeting with him and discussed the current political situation.
The “family meeting” held at Shashank’s residence in Tokha has been widely seen as an attempt to persuade him to maintain a neutral stance and challenge the leadership of NC President Deuba. Although no details of what transpired in the meeting were made public, party insiders said the two senior leaders of the party expressed worry about the eroding credibility and image of the party under the current leadership.
The meeting comes ahead of the party’s district committee meeting scheduled for June 19-21 in Hetauda. The two leaders also discussed the report to be presented in the meeting. Leaders close to the rival faction have been demanding that the Mahasamiti meeting be convened at the earliest and general convention be held immediately after the expiry of the term of the current president.
General Secretary Koirala had contested the last general convention as a running mate of Paudel. While Koirala was elected to the post, Paudel had to face defeat after the third front in the party led by Krishna Sitaula decided to extend its support to Deuba’s bid for presidency.
As dissatisfaction mounts within the party over the working style of its top leadership, dissident NC leaders have lately begun regrouping to challenge party President Deuba.
NC senior leaders Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Arjun Narasingh KC and Gagan Thapa have now joined the rival faction led by Ram Chandra Paudel. While Sitaula and Thapa contested the post of president and general secretary respectively from a third front within the party, KC contested the post of general secretary as a running mate of Deuba during the 13th general convention held in March, 2016.
As General Secretary Koirala has been avoiding functions organized by the rival faction in recent days, there are speculations that he has changed his allegiance to the Deuba faction.
Party’s other influential leaders Dilendra Prasad Badu, Deepak Giri, Guru Raj Ghimire and Jiban Pariyar were also among those present in the meeting.
According to Dr Shekhar’s aide Dinesh Chandra Thapaliya, the two leaders discussed the political situation within NC, role of NC in parliament as an effective opposition party and the latest activities of the government that “go against the spirit of democracy”.