Faced with the prospect of getting sidelined, Nepali Congress, Nepal’s oldest surviving political party, has got itself a youthful makeover.
Seen as a party of elders who have failed to grasp the rapid political changes in the Himalayan nation, NC roped in over 180,000 new members recently.
It still has nearly 60 percent members who are above 35, but the presence of 29 percent members in the 18-35 age group means that youths will play a more active part in the party’s affairs.
According to young NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa, entry of more youths will reconnect the party to the new generation and strengthen it.
With only eight of the 114 NC members in Constituent Assembly under 35, the 64-year-old party needs to change fast to remain relevant and appeal to the young Nepali voters.
In contrast, 60 percent of 237 Maoist lawmakers are below 35 years of age. Not good news when the party of former rebels is slowly assuming the dominant role which NC had till a few years back.
Election of over 40 percent youth members to districts committees in the organizational polls held last week also indicate that the ‘old man’ of Nepali politics is ready to shed its image.
As it prepares for its 12 general convention in September, many within NC believe that more young faces would get into central working committee—the highest decision making body.
Over 3000 members would take part in the general convention, the first since NC patriarch Girija Prasad Koirala’s death and merger of party with NC (Democratic) two year ago.
The party’s eagerness to be seen as a party of all sections in Nepal is also witnessed in attempt to include more women and members from marginalized and minority communities in all levels.
“Inclusion of all sections in the party will infuse the party with new enthusiasm,” feels CWC member Ram Saran Mahat.
Formed in India by Nepali politicians living in exile, NC has played a crucial role in all three public uprisings to overthrow the hereditary Rana prime ministers, establish democracy and abolish monarchy.
Many of its leaders including Nepal’s first elected Prime Minister BP Koirala took active part in India’s independence movement. It is still seen as a party that best understands India’s concerns in Nepal.