Has Nepali Congress failed on all fronts?

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 3 min.

Experts say Nepali Congress has failed as an opposition party. Some party leaders agree, others deny. 
Kathmandu: The main opposition Nepali Congress appears weak and helpless even as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has flagrantly and repeatedly defied the constitution and rule of law. Oli has been taking one after another unconstitutional move but Nepali Congress has not been able to deter him, not even speak out against it, political observers say.  

CK Lal, eminent columnist and political commentator, argues that Nepali Congress has failed on three major fronts. First, the main opposition party is the government in waiting in a sense that if the incumbent government can’t govern properly the opposition parties can oust the government and form a new one, he said. Second, argues Lal, the main opposition should act effectively as the shadow cabinet with responsible lawmakers to regularly monitor the works of the government and point out and bring the flaws and mistakes out to the public discussion.  In the third role, the main opposition should be able to win the confidence of the public by offering alternatives and better agendas. “Nepali Congress has failed in all three roles,” said Lal.

Congress has just been waiting for its turn to get into power. “It only acted as the supporter of the government without any alternative agendas. Nepali Congress has failed to come out with any alternative agendas,” he added. 

According to him, Nepali Congress has toed the same agenda as that of the ruling party. It has failed to go to the people with a new agenda. 

Congress was in a ‘watch and watch’ mood even while PM Oli was showing authoritarian tendencies. Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba often diverged on their response to the actions taken by the government. While the Poudel faction opposed the government, Sher Bahadur Deuba, the party president, was always reluctant.

Congress has not been an effective opposition, nor has it been able to abide by its own democratic principles. 

Oli was reappointed prime minister on May 13 as the leader of the largest party as the opposition alliance led by Nepali Congress failed to secure majority support to form  the new government.

Now the 14th General Convention of the party must be held by September or else the party runs the risks of being deregistered. Yet Congress is in a dilemma.

Congress has not been an effective opposition, nor has it been able to abide by its own democratic principles. 

Nepali Congress leaders, however, differ. Some of them argue that the party has put every effort to work effectively as an opposition while others say the party has failed to act as an effective opposition. 

Dhanraj Gurung counters the claims of the critics. “Many tend to think that being a main opposition means launching street protests and creating obstruction. That’s a misconception,” he said. The main role of the opposition is to point out the mistakes of the government and to help the government if necessary. “We have done that repeatedly. We have submitted memorandums to the government. But the government leadership is so arrogant that it does not listen to the voices of the opposition. It does not listen even if we shout out. That has shadowed the role of the opposition,” he added.

Opposition is the mirror for the government, but the ruling party is breaking the mirror, Gurung said, alluding to a recent split in one of the opposition parties.

“The central committee of Nepali Congress has repeatedly stood up against the unconstitutional moves of the government and it will continue to do so,” he said. On the other hand, other NC leaders argue that the party failed to come up with better agendas and vision. They believe the party has not been able to lead the political agenda after the promulgation of the new constitution. Given the division in the ruling CPN-UML, it is predicted that Congress will perform better in the upcoming elections, whenever it will be held. “But the reality is that even if we do better in the upcoming election it will be due to the inability of the ruling party, not because of a better agenda and vision of the existing Congress leadership,” a Congress leader shared with Nepal Live Today requesting not to be named.