Yogesh Bhattarai, one of the CPN-UML leaders close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, who refused to back him recently when he applied with the Election Commission seeking to split the party, told mediapersons today that in the talks held with party Chair KP Sharma Oli to discuss their 10-point unity proposal, Oli agreed to withdraw action against 14 UML lawmakers, including Nepal, if the latter stopped the process of registering a new party.

Bhattarai, Bhim Bahadur Rawal, Yubaraj Gyawali, Surendra Prasad Pandey, Gokarna Bista, Bhim Acharya, and Raghuji Panta had met Oli today.

Bhattarai said Oli assured them he would treat all leaders equally without prejudice, implement the 10-point unity proposal and revive all party committees that existed before the CPN-UML's merger with the CPN-Maoist Centre. He said the leaders agreed to call the party's Standing Committee tomorrow to implement the 10-point proposal with a clear timeline.

Bhattarai accused Nepal of rushing to open a new party without exhausting efforts to keep party unity intact. He said some leaders formerly associated with Nepal were ready to fight along with him in the party, but would not support Nepal's attempts to split the party.

These leaders, known as third front leaders, had been boycotting meetings of the party's bodies called by the establishment faction, said they would attend the Standing Committee meeting tomorrow, according to UML Spokesperson Pradeep Kumar Gyawali. He said Nepal had gone too far in splitting the party and his chances of remaining in the party were almost nil. He, however, said the Standing Committee would appeal to other leaders who had supported Nepal's bid to split the party, to rethink and join the mainstream party. Gyawali also said rival faction leaders would be given their original responsibilities if they returned to the party.

Bhattarai said the Standing Committee would appeal to dissident leaders to halt the process of registering a new party.

The Election Commission has summoned Nepal-Khanal faction leaders on Wednesday to verify their signatures after which the EC will take a call on the new party's registration process.

UML lawmaker Birodh Khatiwada, who is close to Nepal, said Oli's olive branch would not mean anything unless Nepal and reached agreement. He said his faction would continue to follow the registration process without being tempted by assurances of the establishment faction.

Another Nepal-Khanal faction leader Rajendra Pandey said his faction did not believe Oli would implement the 10-point proposal. "We will continue our process of registering a new party as Oli had given assurances but never kept his word."

The Nepal faction has kept leaders who have signed the petition to split the party at a resort in Chandragiri. Khatiwada said his faction was assembling in Chandragiri to discuss their party's strategies, policies and documents.

This move is seen as an attempt to prevent the Oli faction from enticing its leaders ahead of the crucial signature verification process at the EC.

Oli had recently said he would not let the Nepal faction muster even 20 per cent support in the Central Committee or the parliamentary party.

The Nepal-Khanal faction had petitioned for a party split after amendment to the Political Party Act through an ordinance that lowered the threshold for splitting a party from 40 per cent members in both the Central Committee and the Parliamentary Party to at least 20 per cent support either in the CC or the PP.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 24 2021, of The Himalayan Times.