Central members of Nepali Congress (NC) Bishwa Prakash Sharma and Gagan Thapa look set to contest for the post of general secretary in the coming general convention.
Thapa has already announced candidacy for the post on August 30 while Sharma also looks set to announce candidacy in the coming days.
Thapa, who had also contested for general secretary in the last general convention and lost to Shashank Koirala from the faction of Senior Leader Ram Chandra Paudel, was associated with the faction of Krishna Sitaula then.
Sources close to Thapa confide that he will contest in the upcoming general convention from the anti-establishment camp but not from the Sitaula faction and is determined to even contest independent of any faction if the Paudel faction fields other candidates.
Sharma, on the other hand, had joined Sher Bahadur Deuba camp only before being appointed spokesperson by the party president having already been elected central member in the last general convention.
The ruling party, that earlier elected only one general secretary with the president nominating the other, has amended its statute this time electing both the general secretaries through the general convention. This means Sharma and Thapa, who was in Nepal Students Union when the former was president of the student wing, will not be directly contesting for a single post and both can theoretically be elected as general secretaries.
Central members Bal Krishna Khand, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Ramesh Lekhak and NP Saud are also aspirants for the post from the Deuba faction. But Sharma looks set to announce candidacy for the post most likely on the occasion of BP Koirala's birthday that falls on September 9 this year.
He has already hinted that he will contest for the post having repeatedly said in the past that he will not retire from politics after serving as spokesperson. He tweeted ahead of the start of district convention on September 3 that he will soon be in the field of election and solicited support from the cadres.
The other aspirants from the Deuba camp have been with Deuba for a long time but Deuba will be under pressure to field a young and popular candidate like Thapa who will be contesting from the anti-establishment camp even though Sharma has only recently joined the Deuba faction.
There are many contenders for the post even from the Paudel faction with Minendra Rijal, Chandra Bhandari, Dhan Raj Gurung and Sarita Prasai among others already preparing to contest for the position. The Paudel faction will face difficulty to decide on the candidates like the Deuba faction. But Thapa, who attended a formal program of the Paudel faction for the first time only on Thursday, seems confident enough to win even if he is not formally backed by any faction.
The party has started ward convention on September 3 and will start convention of rural/municipality from September 12.
The fact that more than 300,000 out of around 900,000 active members of NC are youths and the party has amended its statute allowing those who have only recently become active member to contest for general convention representative doing away with the previous provision that required experience of four years as an active member will mean that the young candidates like Thapa and Sharma may both ride the wave of youths to be elected for the post.