KATHMANDU, May 7: As the rift between the establishment and rival factions of the Nepali Congress (NC) deepens, senior leaders who had extended their support to elect Sher Bahadur Deuba to the post of party president in the last general convention have begun withdrawing their support to him one after another.
Most of the dissenting leaders have cited poor leadership skills of President Deuba, who they say was one of the main reasons behind the party's humiliating defeat in the recently held parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. Some of the leaders, according to party insiders, decided to leave the party's establishment faction led by Deuba after the promises made to them during the general convention were not fulfilled.\\
While withdrawing his support to the candidacy of Ram Chandra Paudel, senior leader from the rival faction Kul Bahadur Gurung had proposed Deuba as the party's presidential candidate during the general convention held in March 2016. Then third front leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula had also supported Deuba in the decisive third round of voting.
The fact that many leaders close to Deuba began leaving the establishment faction came to the surface after senior leader Gurung, who is known for his integrity and sacrifice since the founding of the party, announced to withdraw his support to President Deuba during the CWC meeting on April 23. In a written political proposal, Gurung has acknowledged his blunder in supporting Deuba, who "utterly failed to uphold values and principles of the party".
The decision of the Sitaula faction to withdraw their support to Deuba surfaced during the meeting of Nepal Student Union (NSU) organized by Paudel faction leaders in the capital last week. NSU leaders close to Sitaula faction had participated in the NSU meeting that sought to challenge all the decision taken by the NSU establishment.
Another influential leader in the Paudel faction Arjun Narasingh KC, who contested as general secretary from Deuba faction during the general convention, had parted away from Paudel faction on the eve of the 13th general convention held in March, 2016. Although KC has remained silent despite his displeasure against President Deuba, youth leaders Gagan Thapa, Pradip Paudel and Chandra Bhandari, who supported Deuba, have now been speaking in public against the party president.
As the recent nominations of Vice President, General Secretary and Joint General Secretary candidates has further grown intra-party rift in the party, the rival factions within NC appears united against the establishment. As a matter of fact, rival factions secured victory in the general conventions of various sister organizations including Nepal Teachers' Association, Nepal Civil Servants' Association, Nepal Financial Institution Employees Association and Nepal Engineers' Association held recently.
A senior leader from Paudel faction claimed that they are in majority at the party's grassroots units, although Deuba commands majority in the party's CWC. "The provision that allows the president to pick CWC members has helped him maintain his majority. But the way the president is running the party has forced us to challenge him," said the leader, asking not to be named.