Undeterred by the threat of disciplinary action by CPN- UML Chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, the faction of the party led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanth Khanal held its planned national cadres' meet here today and questioned Oli's communist credentials in front of some dyed-in-the-wool communists.

Addressing the gathering of some 2,000 communists, including Radha Krishna Mainali and Mohan Chandra Adhikari, who spent more than 10 years in jail for their role in Jhapa rebellion, Nepal said Oli had strayed from the path of communism as he acted against the power sharing deal reached with CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Other diehard communists who graced the occasion included Modnath Prashrit, Siddhi Lal Singh, and Kamal Koirala.

Nepal said Oli's arrogance, dictatorial behaviour, and tendency to promote factionalism in the party was the main reason behind the crisis in the party. He said he had urged Oli to revert the party organisation to its status before it merged with the CPN-Maoist Centre and revive all the party committees that existed before the merger, but Oli didn't listen.

Nepal said Oli even refused to discuss the COVID crisis and the party's strategies for socialist programmes.

"This gathering is aimed at uniting our party and taking our movement to a new height," Nepal said. Claiming that a party could not remain a party if it had no ideology, he said Oli didn't abide by party rules.

Nepal presented a ninepage concept paper that will be adopted by the gathering tomorrow after incorporating participants' inputs.

According to a press release issued by the faction, Nepal said in his concept paper that the gathering would make an important contribution to take the party towards a collective system, away from a private company that Oli had attempted to make it .

Yogesh Bhattarai, another leader of the Nepal-Khanal faction, told mediapersons at a press conference today that the gathering was not a precursor to a split in the party, but a resolve to strengthen party unity. He said the basis for party unity would be to return to the 16 May 2018 status before the party merged with the CPN-MC.

Bhattarai said the gathering would revive the party committees that existed before 16 May 2018.

Asked if leaders of the Nepal-Khanal faction would attend the parliamentary party meeting called by Oli at 11:00am tomorrow, Bhattarai ruled out the possibility and questioned the timing of the parliamentary party meeting.

"We will attend the parliamentary party meeting after the national cadres' meet if the PM convenes it at an appropriate time," he added.

Asked if his faction would attend the party's central committee meeting slated for March 20, Bhattarai downplayed it, saying it was not the party's central committee.

The Nepal-Khanal faction issued a press release saying Senior leaders of CPN-UML close to Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal participating in the national cadres' meet of the Nepal-Khanal faction of the party in Lalitpur. that overwhelming participation of cadres from across the country despite the establishment faction's attempt to foil the gathering had sent a clear message that the party would remain intact.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.