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In Defeat, Congress Confesses

BY P. KHAREL
pkharel1This time the Congress leadership anticipated and proved correct in having to face sharp criticisms of its style of functioning. Speaker after speaker in the recent meeting of the Central Committee detailed the digression their president Sher Bahadur Deuba and his coterie took, resulting in the party’s worst ever electoral debacle. Deuba is credited with the dubious distinction, from which not only he but the whole party will have an immensely daunting task to recover.
Many NC leaders vehemently regret the power and privilages lost in addition to the beelines of people at their residences on account of being in the government. They bemoan the power lost and not the opportunity lost they could have utilised to serve and benefit all.
Conspicuous is the feature of critical assessments made during the marathon meeting. This should shame especially those boasting their place in the organisation as “intellectuals”, “academics” and “civil society leaders”. They never dared to offer candid comments on party policies, decisions and performance during the long innings NC was in power.
Confessions are being made by senior leaders about what went wrong with the party in the 2017 elections at local and federal levels. Previously they did not utter such blessed words when the organisation was already beginning to sink to unprecedented lows.
COSTLY SILENCE: Congress elites shied away from calling a spade a spade, and any misstep by leaders a misstep. Instead, they presented themselves as parasites and sycophants whose scripts ran as per the tones and tunes the bosses wanted to hear from them. Will the same lot change course now in order to make their presence effectively relevant for wht they claim to be? They need to wake up and screw up their courage to make critical appraisal of the conditions for the Congress today and tomorrow.
Discussions did not serve as an objective political barometer, indulging as they did the leaders with what the latter wanted to hear from them the most. The intellectual caste in the Congress has never shown its backbone, if it has any. They either join the throng supporting Deuba or confess their silence. Some take a pretentious middle path—neither here nor there, trying to please all sides of the factional divide—by saying that “all are responsible”.
For a change, NC condemned the European Union’s report on the 2017 elections in Nepal, which asked the hosts to do away with the quota provision for the Khas-Arya while retaining the larger percentage of the quota for other communities.
NC members were chasing power with a persistence that put all pretences of principles to the back burner all these years. In electoral debacle has arrived the realisation of a prospect that might make them cool their heels in the opposition benches for the next five long years. Frustrations hence run deep in all echelons of the organisation.
Unfortunately for the Congres rank and file, arrogance in victory and confession in defeat has been a tradition. In the company of naïve and often incompetent bores or unscrupulous elements, leadership gets dissipiated. Deuba needs to hold to his own and chart a new course for shoring up party morale and workers’ confidence.
TESTING TIMES: The elderly lot is aware of competition from the youth for tickets in the next round whereas the youth realise that their seniors have suffered drastic decline in image and reputation that would otherwise have been an asset for the new faces in the electoral battles five years hence. Five years might seem a long way off; it always does. Once the period is over, the inevitable wisdom of hindsight assesses it as swift and eventful. That’s the test and taste of the times.
Plagued with faction fighting, unprincipled compromise and dubuious brokering of power sharing, the oldest existing party is at the cross-roads of being drastically marginalised in the years ahead or learning from past errors to recover from the recent series of setbacks and revive to the form it enjoyed in its heydays.
All efforts to bring down Deuba from the leadership in the party and parliamentary party have come to naught. But Deuba’s credibility and moral authority has shrunk to pathetic level. Deuba has the financial purse that outweighs those of others in the party, except Sujata Koirala. Sujata hardly spent any money from her purse, nurtured during her father Girija Koirala’s long say in power.
NC should fear UML not for what it might be able to deliver or that it could stretch its rule for not only next five years but also beyond that period. Fear ir should its own incapability to initiate new measures and raise public support for it. It has five years as the main opposition to repair and recover. It cannot go on hoping to split the Left front and return to power in a dubious manner.
The youth and the dynamic ones should either dump the fossilised leaders or jump for greener pastures where they can propagate, practise and produce better initiatives. This demands an emphatic no to the status quo and thrust on initiatives that can attract public imagination for the better.

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