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Krishna Khanal: Too early to speculate about future Nepali Congress presidency

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

Krishna Khanal: Too early to speculate about future Nepali Congress presidency

The distribution of votes at the 14th general convention of the Nepali Congress show a strong urge for change | Photo: ApEx Archives

The recently-concluded 14th general convention of the Nepali Congress has generated a lot of speculations, particularly concerning the much-desired generational change at the top and the party’s future electoral prospects.  

Pratik Ghimire of ApEx talked to Krishna Khanal, political analyst and professor of political science at Tribhuvan University, about the party’s present and future.

How would you evaluate the recent Nepali Congress general convention?

As the party’s membership distribution process is controlled by main leaders, I had thought the final results would reflect a compromise among various factions. But the distribution of votes says the opposite. We can see a strong urge for change. To an extent, this has started a good trend. The election of leaders like Gagan Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma shows what the cadres want.

Only two of the new 13-member office-bearers are old faces. What is the significance of this result?

Your statement is not true. Even as 11 new faces have been elected office-bearers, many of them like Bhishma Raj Aangdambe, Purna Bahadur Khadka and Farmullah Mansur have been near party leadership since the 90s. They are neither new nor represent anything new in the party. So I don’t consider this an indicator of progress.

Also read: Why are Nepali Congress leaders afraid of technology? 

Can Sher Bahadur Deuba run the party as per his wishes this time as well?

I guess yes because the president is the executive with all the powers. There will be more dissent than before for sure, but Deuba will be the man to take the final call on important issues. A few voices of dissent will not stop him from doing what he wants. So it’s better to not expect much.

Is it fair to say that Gagan Thapa or Bishwa Prakash Sharma stand a chance to win party presidency come the next general convention?

It would be too early to say that. But it is true that if they can maintain support from voters in the long run, this convention has created a firm foundation for them. Moreover, four years is a long time in politics. How the party performs in the upcoming elections and how the public sees this particular crop of leaders will determine a lot of things.

What in your view were the salient differences between the general conventions of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML?

Nepali Congress is an old democratically-run party. So no other party has democratic values comparable to it. The convention was open and tough for candidates, whereas the UML had narrowed down the path to electoral victory by seeking consensus candidates. So these two general conventions can’t be compared. 

The other difference is that NC has an inclusive design for office bearers despite its factionalism. The UML was a one-man show. Similarly, NC cadres know who can lead the party in the future but in the UML, it’s just a matter of who KP chooses.