One of the biggest reasons for the failure of democracy in Nepal in the 90s is the lack of democracy in the then largest democratic party of Nepal: the Nepali Congress. Girija Prasad Koirala, the paramount leader of the party- then and now- is responsible for that. He, along with other leaders like KP Bhattarai and Ganesh Man Singh, tried to run the party as if it was their club. No wide consultation was done before taking any vital decisions by a party so mass-based in Nepali context. The President of the party is like a dictator. The President, for the past several years, is Koirala.
It’s high time that Nepali Congress brought democracy within its organization. Here’s an editorial from today’s Kathmandu Post:
The three-day Nepali Congress (NC) Mahasamiti meeting kicked off in the capital on Sunday (yesterday) with the aim of finalising the amended draft of the party statute to be presented at the general convention later this year. The 1,200-member Mahasamiti, which is the second strongest NC body after the general convention, had to be called after the NC Central Working Committee (CWC) failed to give final shape to the draft statute. The amended statute proposes three options: first, the party president will nominate 50 percent of CWC along with all the important party posts; second, the general convention will elect 80 percent of CWC members who in turn will vote for candidates for important posts; and third, which is the option supported by most NC CWC leaders, where the general convention will elect 80 percent of CWC members as well as fill up important party positions.
During his opening address on Sunday, Girija Prasad Koirala reiterated his desire to retain the post of all-powerful chairman, which, he said, is in keeping with the party’s legacy. Koirala is opposed to the proposal of ceremonial chairman and election of most of the CWC members and important office bearers by the general convention. Supporting him are the likes of Sujata Koirala and Sushil Koirala, whose motives for retaining the provision of an active chairman, it can safely be assumed, are guided by their personal considerations, rather than with the party’s benefit in mind. We believe the proposal of the majority of NC leaders supporting the election of important posts in NC through general convention is the most democratic and befitting a party which claims to champion the cause of democracy, sometimes all by itself, in Nepal. There are many reasons why the NC would be wise to follow this course.
The party, rightly or wrongly, has come to be seen as a playground for the Koirala family after the appointment of Sujata Koirala as deputy prime minister overriding vehement opposition within the NC. Not that the burden of the Koirala family wasn’t felt before. Leaders like Narahari Acharya and Gagan Thapa have for some time been leading the crusade to democratise the NC through the adoption of collective leadership, à la the CPN-UML. It is ironic that the political party, which claims to be at the vanguard of democracy in Nepal, is being run under the diktats of a single person. The Mahasamiti meet, we hope, heeds to the wishes of the reformist faction on the way to adopting a truly democratic leadership befitting a party of NC’s stature. Without instituting democratic norms and values within the party, it will be hypocritical of the NC to project itself as a national democratic outfit. At this critical juncture in country’s history, the space the NC carves out for itself in the Nepali political scene now will go a long way in determining its future in federal democratic Nepal.