GPK roots for Sujata, others say no way
While intra-party feuds in the MJF hogged the limelight late last month, it is now the Nepali Congress (NC) at the centre-stage. NC President Girija Prasad Koirala's decision to field his daughter and central committee member Sujata Koirala as leader of the party in the new government seems to have angered many lawmakers in his party.
On Tuesday, while the inter-party tug-of-war over portfolio division was still on, the party president declared that Sujata would lead the party as fo-reign minister in the new government.
NC Acting President Sushil Koirala called a meeting of the party's senior leaders on Wednesday afternoon and decided to ask the party chief to review his decision. "We have decided to ask the party president to review his decision and send a team led by a senior leader," Sushil told reporters. Sushil, however, didn't specify who would be the senior leader/s but said Sujata could get a portfolio.
Sushil reiterated he would resign as the party's acting president if the party chief did not "correct his decision," said a senior NC leader who was at the meeting. "Girijababu's decision has sparked widespread disgruntlement not only in our party but among our coalition partners as well. They are all in despair."
The desperation comes from the fact that the equation within and among various coalition partners rests on a fine balance; and the bickering in any of the party can have serious impact on government formation.
For many in Nepali Congress, the "unilateral" decision to choose Sujata as party leader in the new government smacks of the party's deeply entrenched undemocratic practice. No matter what the party rank and file think, according to this theory, it's ultimately Girija Prasad who alone decides the party's fate.
"The decision is a serious setback to the process of democratization in our party," said Gagan Thapa, a youth leader. "All the party rank and file see him as our guardian, but he has turned out to be only one person's guardian - Sujata's. It is very unfortunate."
Koirala's decision comes at a time when most NC Central Working Committee (CWC) members were war-ning the party chief not to take any decision without consultations with CWC and the party's Parliamentary Party.
Senior NC leaders, including Gopal Man Shrestha and Chakra Bastola had warned in Friday's CWC meeting that the party should not select anyone who had lost the Constituent Assembly elections. Sujata had lost elections from two constituencies.
"With dirty bickering for power and undemocratic ways, the new coalition partners have not only disappoin-ted the Nepali people but also disillusioned their own cadre," says Kapil Shrestha.
Koirala picking his daughter to lead NC in the government, said Shrestha, reads like the beginning of a Greek tragedy. "Did 87-year-old Koirala devote his entire life to politics just to ensure that his daughter gets a ministerial portfolio? It's sad, very sad."