Deuba exhibiting despotism in the party: Arjun Narsingh KC

Gyanu Ghimire

January 11, 2024


Deuba exhibiting despotism in the party: Arjun Narsingh KC

KATHMANDU: In a scathing critique of Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba, party leader Arjun Narsingh KC has accused Deuba of exhibiting despotism and characterized him as a leader who is unable to speak up.

KC echoed the sentiments of BP Koirala, NC founding leader, asserting that those who remain silent about leadership mistakes are either slaves or opportunists.

Predicting a shift in leadership dynamics during the upcoming convention, KC stated that the current disgruntled faction would take control of the Nepali Congress.

Despite aligning with the establishment side, KC emphasized that neglect from ‘Sher Bahadur and Company’ had pushed him toward an opposing stance.

Expressing his dissent in written form, KC criticized the selection process for National Assembly candidates, alleging that the party President had disregarded the law, procedure, and democratic principles in decision-making.

While the disgruntled faction within the Nepali Congress voices discontent with the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda-led coalition government, KC argued that the solution does not lie in merely changing individuals.

In an exclusive interview with Khabarhub, leader KC asserted, “I am not solely advocating for a change in government or personnel. I doubt the country will derive any benefits from this. Breaking the ruling coalition seems improbable to me.”

However, KC pointed out that the government’s functionality is lacking, and a culture of corruption is prevalent in the country.

He also criticized the political landscape for operating on illicit funds. During the conversation with Khabarhub, KC shared his perspectives on the current affairs in Nepal.

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the House of Representatives, could you explain the primary responsibilities of the PAC?

The main focus and responsibility of the Public Accounts Committee lie in ensuring that the national revenue and taxes of the Nepalese people are safeguarded from any losses.

This Committee holds significant importance and carries a special responsibility.

In Britain, it is referred to as the ‘Queen’s Committee’ because of its role in monitoring taxes paid by the people.

Consequently, we have raised concerns about embezzlement of national revenue, indiscipline, and corruption within the PAC.

What motivated your decision to join the PAC, and what specific goals do you aim to achieve in addressing irregularities and corruption in the current national environment?

I chose to be a part of the PAC with the hope that we can effectively control the rampant irregularities and corruption prevailing in the current national environment.

It is a dedicated effort to contribute to curbing embezzlement, indiscipline, and corruption.

Can you provide insights into the ongoing discussions within the Committee, particularly regarding the matter of arrears? Additionally, how are you addressing the national reality, and what actions are being taken, including involving relevant parties and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority?

Currently, the PAC is engaged in discussions concerning arrears.

Simultaneously, we are exploring and discussing the national reality with relevant parties.

In our efforts to address these issues, we are taking steps to send pertinent matters to the CIAA for further action.

What is your assessment of the current state of governance in the country, and is there room for satisfaction?

In reality, despite constant discussions on good governance during our time in power, irregularities, looting, and corruption persist throughout society.

The leadership’s attempts to curb lawlessness and corruption have faced challenges akin to a rat coming out of a mountain.

It is crucial for the government and parliament to take these issues seriously.

The PAC, too, is earnestly committed to addressing these concerns.

Your party is in government, and there are allegations of a major corruption scandal involving party leaders. How have you addressed this issue, and what actions have you taken to rectify the situation?

I have consistently raised concerns about the corruption scandal within my party, particularly bringing it to the attention of party President Sher Bahadur Deuba on multiple occasions through written suggestions.

Despite my efforts, discontent in the country persists, with a perception that all government ministers are corrupt.

To address this, I have proposed the formation of a high-level, all-powerful judicial commission comprising three to five nationally recognized legal experts and anti-corruption leaders.

This commission, coordinated by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, would rigorously investigate corruption scandals of all times, aiming to reveal the truth to the public.

I, Arjun Narsingh, submitted this proposal to then-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, emphasizing its potential impact on upcoming elections.

Despite continuous advocacy in Parliament and within the party, the proposal has not yet reached a fruitful conclusion.

Nepali Congress leader, Arjun Narsingh KC.

The winter session of Parliament has not been scheduled yet. Do you believe the parliament is currently effective, and what challenges have hindered its functioning?

The effectiveness of the parliament is a natural question, especially considering that only one bill was passed during its prolonged session.

The primary role of Parliament is to pass bills and enact laws, a responsibility that was not fulfilled.

Rather than focusing on the merits and demerits of proposed legislation, Parliament operated on a binary ‘yes’ or ‘no’ basis, influenced by power dynamics rather than thoughtful consideration.

The lack of wisdom and truth-seeking in parliamentary proceedings is evident.

Reflecting on parliamentary traditions, what suggestions do you have to improve the dignity and functionality of the ruling party, opposition, and the main opposition?

It is crucial for all parties to reflect on the dignity of parliamentary traditions.

Regardless of party affiliations, there should be unity on matters of national importance.

I have consistently advocated for a change in our working approach, emphasizing that Parliament does have authority.

While MPs effectively raise public issues, such as those concerning earthquake victims or natural disasters, the manner in which discussions on merits and demerits occur needs serious consideration within our parliamentary tradition.

Acknowledging both successes and shortcomings, how do you respond to questions about your party’s performance and its ability to deliver on public expectations?

While we have addressed some issues successfully, it is natural to face questions about our inability to fulfill all public expectations.

Recognizing the need for improvement, it is essential to engage in self-reflection and consider ways to enhance our ability to deliver meaningful outcomes to the public.

Regarding the coalition government, there seem to be differences within the Nepali Congress regarding the Prachanda-led government. How do you assess the performance of this government?

There are observable differences within the Nepali Congress concerning the Prachanda-led government in the context of the coalition.

In evaluating its performance, there’s a sentiment that the government is not taking decisive steps in certain areas.

While there is an expressed desire to address issues, the execution of measures to control corruption and promote good governance appears lacking.

The progress expected in the journey towards development and prosperity within a year is not as encouraging as anticipated.

Given your opinion, is it appropriate for the Congress to continue in the current alliance, or would it be more suitable to exit the alliance?

I find it challenging to articulate the current situation to both my journalist colleagues and the leaders of my party.

The crux of the issue lies not in individuals but in the commitment to good governance as a national problem.

Good governance signifies the establishment of the rule of law, elimination of impunity, and the creation of a corruption-free society.

Addressing the current economic challenges is equally vital.

The prevalent financial crisis, with capital expenditure below 15 percent halfway through the fiscal year and losses exceeding one billion in national revenue due to administrative expenses, is concerning.

The nation is facing significant challenges such as a large-scale financial problem and an exodus of Nepalese citizens abroad. How do you propose addressing these issues, particularly focusing on the development of self-sufficient villages and income generation?

In light of the pressing issues, it is imperative to initiate an economic reform campaign, emphasizing the development of self-sufficient villages and income generation.

National consensus is crucial for foreign policy, national policy, and national security policy.

This consensus should transcend political affiliations, bringing together all national parties for a collective mission.

The government should not succumb to threats of breaking alliances over issues of corruption.

The current state of the nation is described as complicated, with common people expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction. How do you believe innovation and new priorities can address this situation?

The complexity of the nation’s situation has led to widespread disappointment and dissatisfaction among the common people, potentially fueling feelings of anarchy and rebellion.

In response, I advocate for innovative approaches within the party, fostering new hope and transforming broken faith into optimism.

Rather than focusing solely on changing governments or individuals, there is a call for a new policy-driven journey to bring about meaningful achievements for the country.

What is the likelihood of collapsing the current coalition and forming another government?

I currently see a low probability of breaking the alliance.

You and NC leader Bal Bahadur KC have expressed dissatisfaction in writing to the party about the selection of candidates for the National Assembly. Can you elaborate on the reasons behind this dissatisfaction?

Indeed, there is dissatisfaction with the selection of candidates for the National Assembly.

While we have chosen 10 individuals from the Nepali Congress, my concern is not biased against any specific person.

Rather, the dissatisfaction stems from the process used in the selection.

The selection process should involve presenting all names to the central committee, considering various factors such as province representation, and discussing each name thoroughly.

However, this process was not followed, and the President named 10 people without adequate democratic discussion.

Did any meeting take place regarding the selection of National Assembly candidates?

Yes, the meeting did take place, and I must admit that staying up until 4 am was quite surprising and challenging for us.

We were also unwell at the time. There were procedural issues, as the parliamentary board, according to the constitution of the Nepali Congress, should have been formed first.

The board’s decision should then be approved by the central working committee or, in its absence, the performance committee.

Was the candidate selection process consistent with the Nepali Congress’s established standards?

The established standard for selecting candidates was not followed adequately.

There was insufficient discussion about the names, and the focus was on quickly passing the names of the 10 individuals without comprehensive deliberation.

This led to disagreements, especially as General Secretaries had already expressed disagreement in the parliamentary committee.

In the context of various groups within the Nepali Congress, particularly the establishment side, which group do you align with?

I consider myself part of the establishment faction, although Sher Bahadur Deuba and his associates do not categorize me as part of the establishment faction.

Presently, I observe a general sense of disappointment among the people and notice the emerging national and international situations affecting the country.

In response, I am making efforts to encourage a unified approach within the Congress, advocating for a change in working style and policy to address the current challenges.

However, there seems to be resistance to these changes, leading to my expression of discontent.

Has President Deuba stopped listening to people who have contributed as much to the party as you? Why do you think this is happening?

It seems that President Deuba’s style has become more autocratic, as evident in convening meetings late at night without considering the convenience or health of other members.

The current approach may indicate a disregard for the opinions and well-being of party members, contributing to a sense of regret and sadness on my part.

In the previous convention, there was a competition between you and Gagan Thapa for the post of General Secretary. Are you now aligned in your views?

Currently, I stand with those who oppose autocratic tendencies, traditionalist styles, and statism within the party.

My alignment is based on the shared goal of transforming the party and addressing these issues.

How do you perceive the departure of individuals like Dr. Swarnim Wagle from the Nepali Congress?

The departure of individuals like Dr. Swarnim Wagle is a cause for concern.

It is essential for us to come together, discuss the existing confusion within the party, and work towards creating a new Congress.

The focus should be on transforming the party, initiating an ideological renaissance, and considering generational transfers if necessary.

The aim is to bring in new ideas and rejuvenate the party’s identity, ensuring it remains aligned with contemporary political values.

How much more time will it take for the Nepali Congress to follow the path seen by the BP?

The Nepali Congress is partially walking on the path shown by BP Koirala, but there is a need for further changes based on his insights.

What message would you like to convey through your news organization to your friends regarding the importance of workers daring to criticize the leadership?

I want to remind everyone of the BP’s statement that democracy and the party cannot survive if workers do not dare to criticize the wrong leadership. It is crucial for positive change.

Is there a misunderstanding between the two General Secretartie — Bishwa Prakash and Gagan Thapa?

Conflicts can naturally arise even within a family, but when it comes to original ideas, we are all aligned in the same direction.

Will there really be a transfer of power in the NC after the next convention?

The priority is an ideological renaissance, followed by institutional, leadership, and political transformations within the party.

After these changes, the leadership that emerges will be the one popularly established and rooted in trust and belief in the people.

The new leadership will replace the current leadership through an ideological renaissance.

They recently celebrated National Reconciliation Day. However, is there no reconciliation within the Nepali Congress?

Despite celebrating National Reconciliation Day, it appears that there is a need for internal reconciliation within the Nepali Congress.

The party has a historic role in breaking the chains of 104 years of Rana regime, ending 238 years of autocratic monarchy, and transforming 12 years of violence into peace.

Internationally, the Nepali Congress has crafted a democratic image. As we move towards the 15th convention, new leadership is expected to emerge, bringing forth a new direction for the party.

Some people have expressed a desire to return to the monarchy. Is the system in crisis now?

The current situation does not necessarily indicate a crisis in the system.

However, if the existing issues persist, the frustration among the Nepali people may escalate, leading to increased dissatisfaction.

The current discontent, accompanied by a sense of despair, anarchy, and rebellion, is not directed towards or against any specific system.

Instead, it is a response to corruption, irregularities, lawlessness, and disorder.

The call is for the Nepali Congress to take a leading role in addressing and improving these issues, which is a key aspect of our campaign within the party.