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Hindu state agenda polarises Nepali Congress



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By Ram Prasad Dahal

Kathmandu, Sept. 7: The agenda of reviving the Hindu state has, of late, become a contentious issue in the main opposition party, Nepali Congress. There is a speculation that the pro-Hindu group may form a separate team and contest election in the upcoming 14 general convention of the party.
NC Central Working Committee member Shankar Bhandari said that in the next general convention, the issue of Hinduism would be a top agenda and pro-Hindu team could be formed to fight for the top posts in the party.
‘No doubt, the leaders who advocate for a Hindu state will become the party president in the next general convention. The pro-Hindu team will contest election,” he said.
He claimed the issue of Hindu state has already become a national agenda, not only for NC but for the entire country. The country is favouring the revival of the Hindu state.
Bhandari’s prediction holds ground in the NC. In the recent CWC meeting, influential leader Dr. Shekhar Koirala, who is aspiring for the party president’s job, said the issue of the Hindu state would be raised in the upcoming general convention.
“Our attention should be to find the way to manage the agenda of the Hindu state,” he said.
Almost all NC leaders, no matter to which factions they belong to, have been advocating for the Hindu state.
Mainly NC general secretary Dr. Shashanka Koirala, Shekhar Koirala, joint general secretary Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, Chief whip Bal Krishna Khand, whip Pushpa Bhusal, Bhandari, Devendra Raj Kandel, Ajay Kumar Chourasiya and Sila Khadka are regarded as being in the forefront in the NC for raising the Hindu state issue.
NC insiders said party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi, former general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, leaders Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Gagan Kumar Thapa and Formulla Mansur are the ones who have gone against the issue.
Nidhi at a press meet held in the party office, Sanepa of Lalitpur on Thursday, rejected the idea of revival of the Hindu state. Sitting next to general secretary Dr. Koirala in the press meet, Nidhi noted the party’s official line is secularism, not the Hindu state.
The Anti-Hindu team advocating that the Constitution that was promulgated in the leadership of the NC provisioned the country as a secular state and the party should not backtrack from it.
But the agenda of Hindu state was forcefully brought in the party’s Central Working Committee meeting and was discussed intensively, which further caused a polarisation in the party.
“The agenda of Hindu state was not introduced formally as it is anti-constitutional. But lots of discussions have been made on the issue,” said NC central member Pradeep Paudel.
Many leaders tried to stay neutral on the issue.
But NC leaders Kul Bahadur Gurung, Govinda Raj Joshi, Binaya Dhoj Chand, Sunil Bhandari, Laxman Prasad Ghimire, Bipin Koirala, Ram Chandra Adhikari and others have also been backing the Hindu agenda.
In the beginning, late Khum Bahadur Khadka had advocated the Hindu state inside the NC.
The agenda of the Hindu state was also the most debated issue in the party’s Mahasamiti meeting, the body that formulates party guidelines and policies, held in December 2018.
Bhandari said 735 Mahasamiti members had submitted signatures supporting the revival of the Hindu state.
But NC vice-present Nidhi had rejected incorporating the agenda in his political document during the Mahasamiti meeting. So, the issue has not become an official agenda till now.
Even though the top leaders of the three factions, namely Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Paudel and Krishna Prasad Situala are in favor of a secular state, these factions consist of the leaders who strongly back the Hindu State agenda.