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Congress Critical

Sher Bahadur Deuba’s is certainly no easy undertaking. He is running a Nepali Congress close to its nadir until Girija Koirala jumped on the Delhi bandwagon to emerge as local patron of the Maoists whose  ‘people’s war’ was against his party in the very first place. Girija, assured of a fresh face in his as the country’s first ever president was given the slip by the Maoists then after which the slide continued until his party emerged as the largest party in the legislature. Girija had seen to it that the family hegemony would remain after his death by tutelage Shushil Koirala to his post. Unfortunately Shushil had not fully consolidated the party under him and his death left the long aspired for seat to Sher Bahadur Deuba who cannot but be aware that, Congress apart, Girija’s legacy was an organization based on Girija the individual and old remnants of the Congress struggle for democracy had served merely as window dressings as a result of which both Ganeshman Singh and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai were allowed to distance themselves as Girija’s convenience. Clearly, neither Sher Bahadur Deuba nor Ram Chandra Paudel nor, for that matter, Khum Bahdur Khadka are Girija material and the Congress that Deuba is stitching together is a composite of largely Girija grassroots while at best, at the top, Deuba’s is a bundle of compromises. It is not for nothing thus that the largest party in parliament did take so long to field its ministerial appointments and has yet to come out wholly with a central committee that must reflect its various groups’ segments while he must continue to come to grips with an alien grassroots party that Girija’s followers would deny his control.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that Deuba must emerge only after Shushil Koirala had to yield his prime ministership to the UML’s K. P. Oli making it necessary for Deuba to back the minority Maoists to be part of government from which his Congress can benefit organizationally. His time in government will therefore be stressed with the need for patience for the original nine months the Maoists have been promised in government to expire. In other words, he will continue to try and scuttle Maoist efforts to strengthen itself in government even when he is part of government. This inevitably will run counter to Maoist interests which then would mean that the Prachanda government would have to be overly cautious of Congress maneuvers from within government. This is outside of efforts on part of the Maoists to stretch its nine month term. After all such gentlemen’s agreements have been challenged by the Congress previously as none less than Oli will recall and the Maoist desertion of government to head its own is merely recent history. Incidentally, Deuba’s is a party that finds no representation in the presidency and does not share the speaker’s post. His party is in government but does not head it. This is an exception in post-1990 history. This juncture in Congress history is critical indeed.

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