NRNA leaders worried as partisan politics creeps in

Published On: July 24, 2019 04:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Barring some NRNA National Coordination Councils with fewer members, most NCCs are plagued with election battles similar to the parliamentary elections where not just the money but political ideologies also matter.

KATHMANDU, July 24: On June 30, Uttam Babu Shrestha, a non-resident Nepali (NRN) based in Australia, complained on his Facebook post that NRN election is turning into a highly expensive exercise. This was just a week ahead of the scheduled election of the NRNA-Australia Chapter to pick its leadership for the next two years.

Shrestha estimated that the election was costing at least 1 million Australian dollars (approximately Rs 780 million). “But this is a conservative estimate because it does not include the cost of alcoholic items,” he wrote.

Despite the huge expenses, the achievement has been less than satisfactory, according to him.

Shrestha is among a large number of people within the NRNA who share similar frustrations over how the organization established with the objective to help pool the resources and talents of Nepali diaspora across the globe for the cause of development and well beings of the motherland and its people has evolved over time.

As election fever grips the NRNA National Coordination Councils (NCCs) to pick a new leadership, many within the NRNA complain that the body has now been reduced to party's sister organization, leaving its members sharply divided along partisan lines.

As the NCC election has begun, most of the NRNA chapters have been spending extravagantly. Barring some NCCs with fewer members, most NCC chapters are plagued with election battles similar to the parliamentary elections where not just the money but political ideologies also matter.

Former president of NRNA NCC Chapter-Thailand Khagendra Raj Dhakal admitted that it is a costly exercise even to host the NCC convention as there is a practice of physical voting. “If you include the travel cost and other logistics required, the election turns into a very costly exercise. The best way to avoid this extravaganza is to introduce electronic voting system at least in the NCC chapter conventions,” argued Dhakal.

As NRNA chapters have literally turned into sister organizations of major political parties, those who took initiatives to establish the NRNA as an institution are gradually distancing themselves from it. “When we founded this organization, we had a vision to develop it as a holy temple in which all Nepali diasporas willing to make contributions to the motherland are united in a common platform. But the organization seems to have already deviated from its original goal,” said former vice chairman of NRN ICC Dev Man Hirachan.

NRNA has 80 national chapters, which are called National Coordination Councils (NCC), all over the world. The NRNA NCC Chapters have members ranging from 100 to over 10,000. There is a provision to send one representative per 10 registered members from each NCC to the NRNA International General Assembly (IGA). One NCC can send a maximum of 100 representatives.

NRNA International General Convention is scheduled to be held from October 13 to 17 in Kathmandu. Some 1,000 delegates from 80 NRNA NCC chapters are descending on Kathmandu to take part in the convention. “At least Rs 250 million is spent for hosting the NRNA's global convention alone, which is held every two years. There is also additional cost that each delegate has to spend for travel and other logistics. Time has come for us to ask how much of our original objectives have been met so far,” added Hirachan, who has already served the NRNA in various capacities.

While growing factionalism in the NRNA has failed to unite all Nepali diaspora, this body has also largely failed to encourage its members to make investment in Nepal, which is against the NRNA's objectives. According to a report prepared by Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (Sejon), the total amount of investment made by NRNs in Nepal until December 2014 stands at around Rs 29,855 million.

Some leaders disappointed with the way the NRNA has evolved over time complain that this has just been a platform for some to engage in “politics” and misuse the goodwill and support it has been able to earn from the government to serve their personal interests. “If this is to be transformed into yet another sister organization of political party, it is high time we ask: Do we even need the NRNA?” said an NRNA leader, asking not to be named.

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