Necessity and acrimony                     

Dahal miffed at PM’s unilateral decisions, delayed transitional justice and party unification

Kathmandu, February 9

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s desire to centralise power in the federal government and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s deep desire to devolve power to local and provincial governments as per the spirit of the constitution is behind the ongoing friction between the two leaders.

Other issues that have angered Dahal include Oli’s unilateral decisions on major issues, his tendency to linger transitional justice issues and delay party unification, according to NCP leaders close to Dahal.

A loyalist said Dahal’s pleading in favour of federalism yesterday was a reflection of his desire to continue to win the confidence of those cadres who had supported the CPN-Maoist during conflict for the party’s advocacy of federalism.

Dahal is not happy with provisions of the police bill, civil servants adjustment bill and peace and security bill because he believes they will curtail the powers of provincial and local governments.

“Dahal complained against the party’s government in public mainly because his concerns were not addressed in the party,” NCP Standing Committee member Mani Thapa told THT.

Apart from this, the Venezuela crisis also brought the differences between the two leaders to the fore. A party source said the party secretariat issued a statement on the Venezuela issue supporting Dahal because Oli was in minority with only Bishnu Paudel and Ishwar Pokhrel supporting him. The other six leaders — Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Bamdev Gautam and Narayan Kaji Shrestha supported Dahal.

According to sources, Dahal took the initiative to woo Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba in an attempt to persuade him to end House obstruction so that the TRC bill could be passed. A source said Dahal and Deuba wanted to conclude transitional justice issues soon, but Oli wanted it to linger. “The NCP leadership is divided on transitional justice issues, but Dahal and Deuba share common views,” the leader said.

According to a source, Dahal has been raising concerns about government functioning, but Oli has not paid attention to him. Oli took decisions unilaterally appointing five chairpersons of the constitutional commissions. According to sources, Oli is also preparing to nominate members of those commissions without consulting any party leader.

“Oli decides everything unilaterally without consulting the party committee. This is the main reason behind Dahal’s grievances,” a leader said. Other NCP leaders, including Nepal are angry with the PM for not being consulted on major issues.

According to a task force member, Oli told his loyalists Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel and Bishnu Poudel to stick to their stances on party unification.

Coordinator of the task force Ram Bahadur Thapa and Poudel made a three-page report which was rejected by the Nepal faction. “The report does not address the pressing issues of unification,” a party source said.

Yet these two leaders are talking. Dahal had met PM Oli yesterday minutes before he criticised the government.Today also Dahal met Oli at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar and discussed transitional justice issues.

According to a source privy to their meeting, Oli told Dahal that after the latter’s statement yesterday, people were talking about serious differences between them. “I am ready to work, but all of you need to support me,” the PM told Dahal.

“Oli-Dahal relations are such that they have to use each other for their own benefit. They have no attachment towards each other,” a leader said. They are together due to necessity but their relations are such that they do not refrain from criticising each other, the leader added.