Kathmandu: Sher Bahadur Deuba has been reelected the President of Nepali Congress, defeating Shekhar Koirala in the election of the party’s 14th general convention held in Kathmandu.
Deuba’s election followed a dramatic turn of events on Tuesday when the polls went to the second round after none of the candidates secured the 50 percent votes required to get elected. Deuba had secured 2,258 votes to 1,729 of his closest competitor, Shekhar Koirala.
The second round of the election took place between Deuba and Koirala. Deuba was elected securing 2,733 votes, while Koirala could manage only 1,855 votes. Three other presidential candidates—Prakash Man Singh, Bimalendra Nidhi and Kalyan Gurung—threw their support behind Deuba in the second round, a development that has struck many Congress insiders as unexpected.
The opposition camp, including the three presidential candidates, had earlier decided to stand against the establishment camp, expressing the need for a change in leadership in the Nepali Congress.
Leaders from the opposition camp stood firmly in favor of the establishment camp later, saying Congress still needs Deuba as the party president.
Deuba is reelected as party chief at a time when Nepali Congress, Nepal’s largest democratic party, is facing a crisis. The party, observers allege, has failed to adapt itself to people’s aspiration.
After the results of the first round were out, Singh, who secured a meager 360 votes, said he would extend support to Deuba in the second round as the latter “promised to bring reforms in the party”. Some news outlets, however, reported that Deuba had promised Singh a top post in national politics in exchange for his support in the runoff elections.
Nidhi, a long-time confidant of Deuba, also decided to support Deuba. Nidhi, issuing a statement, requested all the delegates who voted for him in the first round to vote for Deuba in the second round.
In Deuba’s leadership, NC suffered a humiliating defeat in the general elections of 2017 to the “left alliance”, formed between CPN-UML and then CPN (Maoist Centre). KP Sharma Oli, CPN-UML chair, succeeded Deuba as the prime minister. Oli’s tenure, one marked by a series of unconstitutional and authoritarian moves, was eclipsed by his own misadventures. Oli succumbed to mass dissent, and pressure from all sides, paving an easy way for Deuba to the post once again. Deuba got appointed as a PM for the fifth time amid a severe political crisis the country was facing.
The 75-year-old veteran leader of Nepal created a record of being one of the three leaders who have been appointed as PM five times.
The PM’s post came into Deuba’s hands not because he brought forth better agendas and vision but because of the situation Oli had created, observers have said.
Despite Deuba’s failure while holding prominent posts in the party and national politics, he has succeeded in such posts time and again. ‘Luck’, some quip, is all that he possesses.
Addressing leaders and party cadres at the general convention, Deuba said that the PM’s post will be endangered if he fails to win the election for the party’s top post.
Deuba is reelected as party chief at a time when Nepali Congress, Nepal’s largest democratic party, is facing a crisis. The party, observers allege, has failed to adapt itself to people’s aspirations. What do people want from Nepali Congress and what it can give to the public? The answer doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from any quarter of the party, let alone from Deuba.