Kathmandu, August 31
Prime Minister and the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair KP Sharma Oli handed over his responsibilities to the other Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal before he left for Singapore on August 18 for a health-check up. However, Co-chair Dahal does not have a free hand to run the party as his activities are closely monitored and checked by aides close to PM Oli.
This is the first time that Dahal has got the chance to lead the party as mandated by the party’s statute following merger of the two former parties —CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre — in May 2018.
During Prime Minister Oli’s first medical check-up trip to Singapore from August 3 to 12, NCP Co-chair Dahal was not delegated the authority to hold party meetings.
This time, Oli allowed Dahal to run the party in his absence. NCP also held a meeting under Dahal’s chairmanship on 26 August. Moreover, Dahal has also become active meeting high profile persons, including President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
However, Dahal does not enjoy freedom to run the party on his own. PM Oli has formed a group comprising his close aides to oversee and ensure check and balance of Dahal’s work.
According to NCP sources, Oli has deployed his aides Acting Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel in the government, deputy-leader of parliamentary party Subash Nembang in the Parliament and General Secretary Bishnu Poudel in the party to oversee activities of Co-chair Dahal.
“If Dahal wants to do something in these areas, he first should talk and convince them. Without their approval, Dahal cannot do anything although he is one of the co-chairs of the powerful party,” an NCP source told THT, adding that Dahal also needs to convince the party’s senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is not happy with the recent decisions of the party.
Political analyst Hari Roka said that although the two parties merged to form the NCP, there has always remained trust deficit between leaders of the two erstwhile parties. “There are factions in the party. So, there is no environment of trust among the leaders. This has created problems in the party,” he said, adding that trust deficit had prompted PM Oli to deploy his aides to check Dahal’s activities.
PM Oli had appointed his close aide General Secretary Bishnu Poudel as acting chair of the party while he left for Singapore for his first medical check-up on August 3.
On that day, Oli left for Singapore in the afternoon while Co-chair Dahal was supposed to arrive from his UAE trip at mid-night.
“That showed, how much PM Oli trusted Poudel,” an NCP leader told THT, adding, this time too in the absence of Oli, Poudel will look after all works of the party.
However, Surya Thapa, central committee member and newly appointed vice-chair of Media and Publicity Department ruled out the problem of trust deficit in the party. “There was no such problem in the party because the party yesterday issued an internal directive under the chairmanship of Dahal. However, it is true that Dahal and General Secretary BishnuPoudel have been working together and they also consult with other members of the party when required,” he said.
Another central committee member and vice-chair of International Department said, “The party’s statute has clearly mentioned that in the absence of one co-chair another co-chair will run the party. Consultation among leaders before taking a decision is normal practice,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on September 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.