The establishment faction of the CPN-UML led by party Chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today urged leaders of the rival faction led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal to withdraw their signatures pledging support to Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's bid for prime ministership.

On May 21, Deuba had submitted signatures of 149 member of the House of Representatives to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari seeking to form a new government under Article 76 (5) of the constitution.

UML Spokesperson Pradeep Kumar Gyawali told mediapersons after the party's central committee meeting that since former UML lawmakers' support to Deuba was not appropriate from any standpoint – the constitution, democratic norms and values, party statute, or people's interests – the party urged them to withdraw their signatures by 5:00pm on Monday.

He claimed that the signatures of party leaders extending support to other parties' leaders for premiership would not be deemed valid.

In response to a journalist's query, Gyawali said PM Oli had phoned rival faction leader Madhav Kumar Nepal yesterday to invite him for unity talks but Nepal refused to come for a dialogue.

He said some party leaders' statements and deeds were not in favour of party unity but he was hopeful that efforts of other leaders who were trying to reconcile differences between the two factions would succeed.

Senior UML leader Bamdev Gautam, who had initiated a campaign to keep party unity intact, attended the establishment faction's meeting today which was boycotted by the Nepal-Khanal faction.

According to Gyawali, Gautam told Oli that he would do his bit to ensure party unity, to which Oli said that those party leaders who were extending support to other parties' leaders weakening own party chair must mend their ways.

UML leader Amrit Kumar Bohara, who is close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, said there was no possibility that leaders of the rival faction would withdraw their signatures pledging support to Deuba in his bid for prime ministership.

"Oli should understand why party's leaders are supporting Deuba's bid for prime ministership and have petitioned against the HoR dissolution.

Why did the PM dissolve the HoR twice and who did he consult before doing so?" Bohara wondered. He said party leaders' support to Deuba and the petition against the HoR dissolution was to check the PM's arbitrary moves and to save the constitution and democracy. He said the PM was not making honest efforts to keep the party unity intact.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 3 2021, of The Himalayan Times.