As the periodic elections energise democratic institutions and elect new national leadership, the conventions of political parties pick heads and office-bearers to strengthen and run their organisations. The national congresses are crucial to deciding the party policy and principles having broader implications not only for the life of a party but for the overall political and economic development of a nation. The national conventions boost inner-party democracy and offer chances to find new and competent faces to develop leadership skills. They serve as appropriate platforms for the emergence of new leaders aspiring to lead the nation. They shape the parties’ organisational structures and ideological discourse while grooming the functionaries committed to democracy, development and nation’s sovereignty. Democracy thrives and is institutionalised if the parties democratically hold their congresses and within a stipulated timeframe. This will greatly contribute to democratising parties and society as a whole.
Various intra-party dimensions are at play during the internal elections of parties. Alignments and realignments occur as the factional leaders and cadres shift their allegiance and position all of a sudden. Nonetheless, they strengthen democratic exercises in which the party delegates approve or reject the particular leaders. This also marks a defining moment for the leaders to stay afloat in politics. Also, a leader's organisational ability is tested. If leaders succeed to move up the leadership rung within the party, they will also secure space in national politics. At the same time, the performance of those who hold public offices also determines their role and position in the party.
Now, the country's political parties are busy holding their conventions from the ward, district, province and national levels. The main opposition CPN-UML recently concluded its 10th national congress in Chitwan district. The unity convention of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) kicked off on Wednesday after the unification of two RPPs. It is set to elect a 149-member central committee with the new head of the party. The ruling Nepali Congress will conduct its 14th general convention on December 10-12. The NC, which has rescheduled the convention dates a couple of times due to different factors, will elect the president, office-bearers and the central working committee for the next four years.
The general convention of UML, the largest party in the parliament, generated oodles of public interest as it was held after its vertical split. It re-elected KP Sharma Oli, the party chairman for the second term and picked 18 office-bearers. The national congress was extended to two more days after Oli’s attempt to choose new leadership through consensus came a cropper. It finally went on to hold elections to pick a new set of leaders as some delegates came out against Oli’s bid to choose them through the selection process. Oli has emerged as the sole leader of the party from the convention but some outspoken leaders have opposed his personality cult. Meanwhile, the convention has adopted a 17-point proposal in which the UML is committed to effectively working for the well-being of the people and the country. Now the party should play a constructive role in the parliament and contribute to the task of national-building in its capacity as the main opposition party.