Kathmandu, August 18
Jhalanath Khanal has become the most powerful leader after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), in a major blow to senior NCP leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.
The decision to elevate Khanal in the party’s hierarchy was taken by NCP’s central secretariat meeting held today at the prime minister’s residence.
Until now, Nepal was the most powerful leader in the party after the two co-chairs, Oli and Dahal. But with today’s decision, Nepal has tumbled a notch behind Khanal in the party’s hierarchy.
“Nepal sees his demotion as an attempt to alienate him in the NCP and calls it a ploy designed by two co-chairs of the party,” a leader close to Nepal told THT. According to the source, he told today’s meeting that the party should embrace ‘one person, one post’ principle, taking a jibe at Oli, who is the head of the party as well as the government.
Tension had been simmering between Khanal and Nepal since the establishment of the NCP in May 2018.
Right after the NCP was formed following the merger of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, Nepal was ranked third in the party hierarchy after the two co-chairs. At that time, Khanal had expressed dissatisfaction over Nepal’s ranking in the party and had submitted a note of dissent in the party’s central secretariat. Khanal had argued that he should be placed ahead of Nepal in the NCP’s hierarchy, as he was the most senior leader after Oli in the erstwhile CPN-UML. But the NCP central secretariat did not consider Khanal’s request at that time.
However, Khanal raised the same issue during Friday’s central secretariat meeting and the party’s two co-chairs agreed to reconsider his request.
“If the NCP intends to follow the hierarchy of erstwhile CPN-UML as proposed by Khanal, then the party should appoint Bhim Rawal, Astha Laxmi Shakya and Yubaraj Gyawali as vice-chairpersons because they were vice-presidents in the erstwhile CPN-UML,” Nepal was quoted as saying during today’s meeting.
Today’s decision is likely to sow seeds for further political infighting, as Nepal is considered an influential leader in the party.
A version of this article appears in print on August 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.