Two second generation leaders of the Nepali Congress-Shailaja Acharya and Sushil Koirala-have announced that they will be contesting for the post of party president during the forthcoming 10th Nepali Congress national convention, while a third, Sher Bahadur Deuba, is also on the verge of signing up.
While Shailaja Acharya had made her intentions clear two months ago, it was the turn of Sushil Koirala last week, but only after he added a rider-he shall contest only if the Prime Minister doesn\'t. Deuba, in the meantime, is consulting his advisers and supporters, and still has not made up his mind completely. Deuba knows only too well that he had once challenged Prime Minister Koirala and had come a cropper. Moreover, he was also one of the leaders in the dissatisfied camp who had challenged Koirala recently, and there too, had not been completely successful. They were successful to the extent that they got the national convention postponed, extracted a promise from. Koirala that he would reshuffle the Congress Working Committee and Cabinet, but were unsuccessful in fulfilling their main demand, which was the issue of one person-one post.
Since the Prime Minister is out of the country; the reshuffling of the CWC and the Cabinet will be done only after he returns. The PM has not stated whether he will contest for party leadership or not, and has stated that this decision should be left to the party election committee.
Discontented party members want Deuba to throw his hat in the ring. But he realises that a majority of the party members are with Koirala, and weaning them over to his side is not at all easy. And if he contests, he has to make sure he wins.
Another point that works against Deuba is his handling of the Maoist issue. As the head of the committee to solve the Maoist problem, he has been far from successful. He has handed in his report but his opponents state that he did not even visit the affected areas while preparing this report. Plus the Deputy PM\'s recent visit to the affected areas has taken the wind out his sails. Agreed, the Deputy PM\'s purpose of visit and Deuba\'s handling of the Maoist problem may be completely different, but party members state that for his own benefit he too should have been there and not sitting in his office in Baneshwor and meeting his well-wishers and supporters.