Leaders from the faction of Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba have started to stake claim for party presidency ahead of the next general convention.
Gopal Man Shrestha has claimed for the top post after Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi met Deuba on Thursday and asked for his support to become party president.
"I am chief of the party's organization department now and have worked for expansion of the organization across the country. I am building up public support," Shrestha, who had helped Deuba after he split NC in the past and become vice-president to Girija Prasad Koirala after the party rejoined NC, told Setopati on Monday. "I will be left behind in politics if I don't contest even now."
He, however, added that he will contest for the top post only after consultation with Deuba. "One cannot contest on own and should consult the team. Our team leader is Deuba. I will naturally stand for president if he says he won't contest."
He reminded how he has helped Deuba while the latter was in difficulty and claimed that he has struggled for the party from the lower level. He also took an apparent dig at some of the contenders for the top post including Nidhi, Shashank Koirala, Shekhar Koirala and Prakash Man Singh saying the only thing he lacks is he is not son of a leader.
Nidhi is son of former party general secretary Mahendra Narayan Nidhi, Shashank of founder BP Koirala, Singh of Ganesh Man Singh and Shekhar of Nona Koirala--BP's sister-in-law.
Shrestha, however, pointed that Deuba seems to be in a mood to contest himself. "I have heard him say he will contest once again and we will get chance after that as even the statute does not allow him another term," he stated. "I will naturally stand for president from our team if he somehow decides to not contest."
He reasoned that there is no meaning of contesting to lose if Deuba also stands and pointed that he is senior than Nidhi to stake his claim from the faction. "Nidhi is vice-president now. I am much senior than him in the party," he argued. "I will stand for presidency if my team proposes. First Deuba would say whether he will stand or not. Whether I will contest will be known after that. But I am also contender for the top post."
He reiterated that he will be the natural successor to Deuba ahead of Nidhi and expressed confidence that Deuba will allow him to contest if he chooses not to seek another term.
He conceded that while leaders in the faction have expressed desire for the post Deuba is still not under pressure to make way for others. "Deuba was the unanimous name for president ahead of the 13th general convention from our team. Friends are expressing desire now which is not bad," he said. "But there is still no pressure from our team on Deuba asking him to make way now. It is different matter if Deuba were to say so of his own volition. But pressure has yet to develop. We will discuss about this and reach decision in a few days."
He claimed that Ram Chandra Paudel, Shashank, Singh and others will also support him as he can take everyone together due to his experience of working with BP, Ganesh Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala in the past.