Kathmandu: Nepal’s oldest political party Nepali Congress (NC), which claims to be a singular democratic party of the country to uphold liberal values, has scheduled its 14th General Convention from November 25 to 29.
NC will get a new elected body within two months if the convention is not postponed for the next round. Hopes are high that the elections will take place in the slated time as ward-level elections and Village/Municipal level conventions have already been completed in many districts. Many NC leaders, however, are questioning the performance of current leadership as some districts are yet to hold the ward-level conventions.
Though Nepali Congress claims to be a ‘mass-based’ party, it has a ‘complex’ process of electing new leadership. By introducing layers of membership, the party is now not in the position to be dubbed as a mass-based party.
In this explainer, Nepal Live Today tries to describe the structure, poll process, numbers and other governance issues of Nepal’s oldest party.
What does the statute say?
According to the party statute, Nepal Congress has two types of members: Nepali Congress members and Nepali Congress active members. However, the general members don’t have any role to play in the internal competition of the party. On the other hand, the active members are the participants and voters in the General Convention and can impact the leadership selection.
Election process: From ward to the center
The General Convention begins with ward-level conventions around the nation, in which the active members cast their votes to select regional representatives. Each ward convention can choose up to 75 regional representatives for the Provincial Assembly regional convention, depending upon the number of active members.
In the wards with 150 active members, 15 regional representatives are chosen–including 3 women, 6 from the open category and 6 from the reservation system. The ward president is an ex-officio member included as a regional representative, which makes for a total of 16 representatives. In the case of more than 150 active members, 6 representatives (including 2 women) are added for every 100 additional active members.
The ward representatives vote for the Palika, Province and District Convention. After the ward and Municipal/Village conventions, the Provincial Assembly Regional convention is conducted in 330 regions, which selects 16 representatives from each region of the Province. Moreover, the president of each constituency in the province is ex-officio selected as the representative for the Province Convention.
The representatives chosen from the Provincial Assembly regions participate in the Convention of the House of Representatives constituencies. The Convention appoints the House of Representatives Regional Working Committee.
The Convention of the 165 HoR constituencies selects the representatives for the Central convention. From each HoR constituency convention, 25 representatives are chosen for the Central Convention including 14 from open competition (with 4 women), and 10 from the proportional system. The President of the Constituency (Nirwachan Chhetra) of HoR is ex-officio selected as the representative for the Central convention.
The central working body of the Nepali Congress formed from the General Convention is the Central Working Committee. The Central convention representatives can vote for the selection of the Central Committee of the party. For the Central convention, there is a provision that central officials and central members will automatically be the representatives. Apart from this, well-wisher institutions (Suvekchhuk Sanstha), public relation committees, and sister organizations (Vaatri Sanghathan) can send the representatives for the Central convention as per the designated quota.
New provisions for inclusion
On September 24, the Central Working Committee of Nepali Congress made a decision to introduce new provisions to ensure inclusion in the party structure. Those provisions are worth mentioning.
The first provision says that if there is no representation according to the current provision in the list sent by the center to Palika, Provincial Assembly constituency, HoR constituency and District Working Committee, a provision will be made to further elect a Dalit member and one among either Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, minority or persons with disabilities groups out of the Regional representatives.
The second provision says that if there is no representation according to the current provision in the list sent by the center to the Provincial Assembly constituency, a provision will be made to further elect one from Dalit and one from either Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, Minority or persons with disabilities groups out of the Regional representatives to Province convention representatives. Similarly, the third provision says if there is no representation according to the current provision in the list sent by the center to HoR constituency, a provision will be made to further elect one from Dalit and one from either Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, Minority or persons with disabilities groups out of the Regional representatives to Central Convention representatives.
Central Working Committee structure
The Nepali Congress Central Working Committee (CWC) consists of 167 members including a President, two Vice Presidents, two General Secretaries, eight Joint General Secretaries (one woman, one Aadibasi Janajati, one Dalit, one Madhesi, one Khas Aarya, one Tharu, one Muslim and one from Remote Area) and a Treasurer (recommended by President, and elected/appointed by the Central Working Committee).
Currently, five topmost posts are held by Sher Bahadur Deuba, Bimalendra Nidhi, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, Dr Shashank Koirala and Purna Bahadur Khadka respectively.
In addition, 35 central members come through open competition (with nine women members), 21 from Province (3 from each province including a woman member), nine Dalits (with four women), 15 Aadibasi Janajati (with seven women), 13 Khas Aarya (with six women), nine Madhesis (four women), four Tharu (two women), three Muslim (one woman), one member each from remote area (pichhadiyeko chhetra), minority and persons with disabilities.
Moreover, 33 members are appointed by the president once he/she is elected. There is a provision to include one-third women in line with the inclusive principle, and considering the members from persons with disabilities, minority communities or from remote areas.
Nepali Congress is going for the General Convention, which will decide how many new faces will be elected in the Central Committee, how many of the current office bearers will be reelected and how many will be rejected by its voters. As such, Nepali Congress General Convention is being watched keenly and closely across the political spectrum in Nepal.
Congress members in data
Central office bearers
|Joint General Secretary||8 (one woman, one Aadibasi Janajati, one Dalit, one Madhesi, one Khas Aarya, one Tharu, one Muslim and one from Remote Area)|
|Treasurer||1 (Recommended by President, and elected/appointed by the Central Working Committee)|
|Province||21 (3 from each province including a woman)|
|Dalit||9 (four women)|
|Aadibasi Janajati||15 (seven women)|
|Khas Aarya||13 (six women)|
|Madhesi||9 (four women)|
|Tharu||4 (two women)|
|Muslim||3 (a woman)|
|Remote Area (Pichhadiyeko)||1|
|Persons with disabilities||1|
|Appointed by President||33|