All’s not hunky dory between top NCP honchos Oli, Dahal

Kathmandu, October 24

Although Nepal Communist Party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal said in his recent speech that everything was fine between him and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, it’s not all hunky dory between them.

In fact, according to party insiders, there has never been ‘environment of trust’ between the two since the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-MC merged to form the NCP. The major bone of contention has always been work division.

At the time of merger, Oli and Dahal had reached a gentlemen’s agreement whereby they would take turns as prime minister, or one would head the party and the other the government. Dahal has often spoken about the agreement publicly and Oli has not dismissed it.

However, Oli is least interested in sharing power with Dahal. His numerous public statements attest this fact. The latest one being that the public had endorsed his leadership, and no one else’s when the party registered a thumping victory in the last general elections.

Oli’s statement was in response to Dahal’s expression of discontentment with the former’s reluctance to share power. Dahal even went to the extent of saying at a tea party organised by the Nepali Congress that he could again collaborate with the NC. The former CPN-MC had formed two coalition governments with the NC.

Dahal expected Oli to hand over party responsibilities to him after Oli allowed him to chair meetings of the party secretariat or high command before his departure to Singapore for treatment in August. That, however, was only a stop-gap measure.

“So Dahal’s outburst was nothing but resentment as Oli had not changed his way of functioning even after returning from Singapore,” said an NCP leader. “So let’s not take it as an isolated event, it is rather a culmination of Dahal’s accumulated frustrations. Problems between the two still persist.”

The leader said Dahal’s recent statement that everything was okay between him and Oli was nothing but ‘diplomacy’.

With Oli refusing to budge, Dahal is now seeking a fresh agreement. This time, a ‘package deal’ encompassing a host of issues with power sharing on top of the list. Other issues include taking transitional justice to its logical conclusion, appointing a speaker, and concluding the remaining tasks of party unification.

Dahal has intensified meetings with other NCP leaders, including former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Bam Dev Gautam. Both Nepal and Gautam are unhappy with Oli for not keeping his promises and for running the party unilaterally. This has given rise to speculations that there could be a Dahal-Nepal-Gautam alliance.

Party insiders attribute the problem to party unification that had centred around election. “Ideology should be at the centre while unifying two parties and then the issue of power sharing could be dealt with,” another NCP leader said. “But election was kept at the centre, not ideology, resulting in the present situation. Also, leaders are focused on personal and factional interests, not the interest of the party or the nation.”