Did intra-party tensions influence Gagan Thapa’s speech in Tanahun?

Gagan Thapa, an icon of Nepal’s republic movement and liberal politics, delivered a speech in Tanahun on Monday criticizing Dr Swarnim Waglé. His close aides believe intraparty tensions and pressures reflect in his speech.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Whether one agrees or not, Gagan Thapa has remained as a hope for the political reforms in Nepal for more than a decade. 

As a politician who emerged from the 2006 mass movement, he has been critical of the modus operandi of political parties, mainly his own party Nepali Congress, tried to hold top leaders accountable and has raised the people’s issues on multiple occasions in the past, in and outside parliament.

Unlike many of communist counterparts and the leaders of pro-monarchy forces, he never supported extremism and the idea of violence in politics. 

He challenged the party leadership and dared to contest the elections to the post of party’s general secretary while many Nepali Congress leaders were saying “it is too early” for leaders like him. His daring move was the one that opened the door for many other second and third generation leaders to fight for the position. 

The same leader with commitment to the democratic values and principles sounded a bit too harsh against his own erstwhile comrade Dr Swarnim Waglé on Monday during the election campaign speech in Tanahu. In the speech he heavily criticized the latter saying that he was abroad for a job while he was fighting for democracy.

The content and tone of the speech has alarmed all, even his ardent supporters. So why did he have to spew venom against the person who until a day before was his own party colleague? 

[Related: Gagan Thapa lost the battle but that’s not an end of story]

A leader close to him informed Nepal Live Today that he has been going through the massive tensions and pressures inside the party. “Gagan was under pressure even before Swarnim Waglé decided to quit Nepali Congress. He was fighting for equal and just treatment to the leaders of his faction by the party president,” he said. “Nepali Congress could not send the name of the ministers from the Shekhar Koirala faction due to conflict between Deuba and the opposition faction of Nepali Congress.”

So, he was already stressed emotionally, said the leader.

On top of that, Waglé’s decision to quit the party came as a surprise to him, another Congress insider told Nepal Live Today. And it was obvious that those who were critical of Thapa could take the incident as a weapon to weaken his political ground inside the party. 

“It was sure that rival groups could take Waglé’s move as a strategy to criticize Thapa, given that Waglé was his close friend. Thapa may have tried to avoid intra-party criticism by criticizing Waglé.” 

Of late, Thapa is going through a lot of tensions and pressure, he said. “On the one hand, he has the realization that people have high expectations from him. On the other hand, he is not in the position in the party to address people’s expectations.” He further stated that Gagan, by no means, can go against the liberal values. “As far as I know him, Gagan is open to issues of lateral entry in the party and does not compromise liberal values under any circumstances.”