By Our Reporter
The Nepali Congress that had emerged as the biggest party in the Constituent Assembly elections of 2013 and had won majority seats in the 1990 and 1999 general elections fared very badly in the recent elections to the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies.
It won just 21 seats out of 165 seats under the First-Past-The –Post electoral system in the House of Representatives and negligible number of seats, in single digit, in all seven provinces.
Many of the powerful leaders including senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel, and leaders like Dr Shekhar Koirala, Mahesh Acharya, Krishna Sitaula, Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, Arjun Narasingh KC, Bimalendra Nidhi, Gopal Man Shrestha and Ramesh Lekhak faced humiliating defeat.
Although the alliance between the CPN UML, the second largest party and the CPN-Maoist Centre, the third largest party in the erstwhile parliament, was the major cause for the humiliating defeat of the NC, other factors also contributed to the unimaginable downfall of the largest democratic party of the country.
The popularity of the party has begun eroding right from the day the party gave up its founding principles of constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy. Late Girija Prasad Koirala adopted the ideologies of the Maoists and agreed to its principle of dethroning the monarchy. He nodded the move of the Maoist boss Pushpa Kamal Dahal and then speaker of the interim parliament Subash Nembang to insert the provision of ‘secularism’ in the interim constitution. Koirala had done all these things in the hope of becoming the first president of Nepal. But he was denied the post, and he died without becoming the president. These two decisions endorsed by the NC were not liked by many NC leaders and their supporters.
The candidacy filed by Sushil Koirala against K. P. Oli going against the gentlemen agreement to handover the prime ministerial post to Oli after promulgating the constitution further eroded the popularity of the party.
Worst was the move taken by Sher Bahadur Deuba to pull down the Oli government that had boldly faced the Indian embargo. He helped Pushpa Kamal Dahal to become new Prime Minister going against the public sentiment.
Deuba took this unpopular move, perhaps at the Indian design to prevent the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposed Nepal visit of 2016 October, but it backfired in the crucial polls.
For the Nepali people who had not forgotten the pains they had suffered from the Indian blockade, Deuba’s move served as another blow. And they were waiting to punish Deuba and his party, which was revealed in the elections. The defeat of NC leader Navindra Raj Joshi in Kathmandu-8 is an example to this. Joshi, one of the most popular NC leaders, fell prey to Deuba’s unpopular move as the voters chose not to vote the pro-Indian party.
The impeachment motion filed against former chief justice Shusila Karki and Deuba’s upper hand in the appointment of IGP also discouraged the independent voters to vote in favour of the NC.
The arrogance shown by the NC leaders Krishna Sitaula and Bimalendra Nidhi over the electoral alliance with the RPP and the Madhes-based parties also became counter-productive for NC in province 2 and Mechi zone. Not only Sitaula and Nidhi lost the polls they also contributed to the defeat of other NC leaders like Bishwa Prakash Sharma in Jhapa-1. Had NC and RPP forged electoral alliance, Sharma was sure to win the Jhapa seat.
Above all, the decision of Deuba to grant election tickets to his wife Arzoo Rana in Kailali turned suicidal as many leaders who had spent years behind bar took it as an injustice meted out against them and did not cooperate with her. Her candidacy spoiled the entire environment in western Nepal and almost all leaders, including Ramesh Lekahk lost the polls. Only Sher Bahdaur Deuba was elected to the House of Representatives from entire province 7.
Now with the NC’s humiliating defeat, the NC leaders have started asking party president Deuba to step down, and he is not likely to bear the pressure as some NC leaders have demanded that a special convention of the party be called.
Of course, Deuba’s incompetency was exposed more apparently this time. Although he succeeded to hold the elections, he failed to make his party win the polls, and this is likely to be costly for him.