| June 27, 2019

Aspirants for party prez intensify bids to line up support

Aspirants for party prez intensify bids to line up support
KATHMANDU, Feb 19: With the Nepali Congress (NC) general convention fast approaching, the key aspirants for the post of party president have intensified their lobbying, offering major positions to some influential leaders in a bid to strengthen their own positions.

So much so that two much-talked-about aspirants in the race for future NC president, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Paudel, on Thursday went to the extent of offering a high post to each other in return for publicly joining one's camp .

Talking to a few journalists at his residence at Budhanilkantha in the morning, Deuba said he would offer to back Paudel as prime ministerial candidate from the party if the latter gives up his race and supports Deuba for party president.

In response, Paudel also offered to back Deuba as candidate for prime minister or president if the latter supports him for party president.

Though such offers could have been made for public consumption, Deuba had indeed approached Paudel with an offer, said a party leader close to Deuba. Paudel, however, seems not to be swayed by any offer from other aspirants for party president, claim his aides.

Following the demise of NC President Sushil Koirala, who was expected to contest for party president once again, Paudel intensified is homework for becoming the unanimous candidate from the party's establishment faction.

In a bid to become the unanimous candidate from the faction, Paudel is in regular discussions with other key leaders of the faction, including Prakash Man Singh, Shekher and Sashank Koirala, and others. However, he is finding it difficult to become sole candidate from the establishment faction, as Singh himself is also eying the post of NC president. Krishna Sitaula and Sujata Koirala have already announced their candidacies for the past.

Meanwhile, Deuba has also been approaching these same leaders from the establishment faction to get them to defect to his camp.

Sashank or Shekher ?

Though all the aspirants for NC party president wish to enlist an heir of the Koirala family in their team, the Koirala troika seem divided among themselves. Sujata Koirala, daughter of former NC president and many times prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, has announced she is to fight for the post. So, the other aspirants for party president are not approaching her, fearing they will not be able to persuade her into settling for some other post.

But both Paudel and Deuba are eying Shekher Koirala and Sashank Koirala as candidates of party general secretary from their teams.

But the leaders appear still to be in confusion as to who is the heir of the Koirala family, Shekher or Sashank. Though Keshav Koirala's son Shekher is known to have a strong grip on the party rank and file, leaders are eying Sashank as he is the son of the late NC leader BP Koirala and has a commanding approach.

Sitaula's approach

Meanwhile, party General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who is also a presidential hopeful, is yet to enlist the support of influential leaders of the party.