When government ministers indulge in corruption, do not live up to people’s mandate, fail to become transparent and accountable, and fail to provide basic services and ensure minimum governance, it is then that people expect the opposition party to take up those concerns on their behalf. This is how opposition party is expected to function in a democracy. Opposition educates the mass regarding where the government is making mistakes and how they can be corrected. This is why in a parliamentary system opposition party is also called parallel government or the government in waiting. But Nepal’s main opposition, Nepali Congress, has even failed to keep its own house in order and make its organizational structures up and running. Infighting within the party and its weak and non-functioning structures will have direct bearing on the country’s governance system.
As a matter of fact, Nepali Congress does not seem to have come back to its feet after the electoral debacle of 2017. Parties win and lose elections in a democracy. Nepali Congress should have taken the 2017 loss in that light and immediately revamped the party structure. But this was not meant to be. Congress, as we see today, is divided in multiple factions—led by Koiralas, Krishna Sitaula, Ram Chandra Poudel and the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba. Each faction seems to be at loggerheads with other and is portraying other faction as the source of all problems. On his part, party president Sher Bahadur Deuba is taking decisions arbitrarily without taking dissenting factions into confidence. Deuba’s latest moves could well be interpreted as a bid to consolidate his hold within the party. His decision to make Bijay Kumar Gachhadhar vice-president has become the subject of debate among top leaders. The party is yet to hold much-awaited Mahasamiti Meeting as, party insiders say, President Deuba and his team continue assessing their hold so that they are not challenged. It has already been over four years since the country adopted federal state structure, but the party is yet to restructure itself accordingly. It is unfortunate that the country’s grand old party with democratic credential has failed to hold general convention of Nepal Student Union, its student wing, to elect new leadership. Perennial internal conflicts are weakening the main opposition from within.
Media has reported a number of wrongdoings from the government. The government’s move on restricting free flow of information, its failure to conduct fair and impartial investigation on rape and murder of 13 years old Nirmala Panta even three months after the incident, and tendency to misuse state funds and resources for personal comforts of ruling party leaders are becoming recurrent stories. Nepali Congress’s absence is felt conspicuously on these matters. Congress leadership should bury their hatchet, restructure party organizations, resolve internal contentions and reemerge as a united and vocal opposition. It cannot afford to engage in internal wrangling indefinitely. It will neither serve the interest of the party nor help make the government accountable. The onus clearly lies on party president Sher Bahadur Deuba.