Nepal | August 10, 2020

Oli, Dahal in bid to save NCP unity

RAM KUMAR KAMAT
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If the two co-chairs fail to act as per the spirit of the party unity document, maintaining party unity will be difficult  – NCP leader Mani Thapa

KATHMANDU, JULY 3

Co-chairs of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) — Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli — held talks for three hours today but failed to iron out their differences.

Dahal has asked Oli to quit the post of prime minister, while some key leaders of the party, including Jhalanath Khanal, have asked the PM to step down from the posts of the PM as well as party co-chair.

Oli, however, has refused to quit any of the two posts. He abruptly prorogued the budget session of the Parliament fuelling speculation that he would bring an ordinance making it easy for himself to split the party with the support of 40 per cent members either in the NCP’s Central Committee or the Parliamentary Party. At present, dissidents need at least 40 per cent support both in the central committee and parliamentary party to split the party.

A member of Dahal’s secretariat said Dahal and Oli held dialogue in a cordial environment and agreed to holds talks tomorrow as well before the Standing Committee meeting.

“Differences have not been resolved yet. Both leaders will continue to discuss the current problems,” said Standing Committee member Haribol Gajurel.

Oli’s recent statement that India was plotting to dislodge him from power after his government amended the constitution to depict Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as its territories in the redrawn map of Nepal, as well as the country’s national emblem riled the rival faction, which interpreted the PM’s remark as an attempt to cling on to the power by portraying himself as a nationalist leader.

The NCP Standing Committee yesterday had decided to postpone its meeting till Saturday to let the two co-chairs hold discussions and reconcile their differences.

Oli who has fallen into minority in all party bodies, including the Standing Committee, has not been attending the Standing Committee meeting regularly. The PM suddenly prorogued the budget session of the Parliament yesterday fuelling speculation that he would bring an ordinance to split his party with the support of 40 per cent members of either the Central Committee or the Parliamentary Party. The PM’s decision to abruptly end the House session without consulting top party leaders or the heads of the two houses of Parliament riled the rival faction of the party led by Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Meanwhile, second rung leaders of the ruling NCP Ghanashyam Bhusal, Bishnu Prasad Rimal, Shankar Pokharel, Barshaman Pun, Janardan Sharma, Yogesh Bhattarai, Shakti Basnet and Mani Thapa held a meeting in the morning and decided to pressure party’s top leaders not to take extreme steps that could be detrimental for party unity.

Standing Committee member Mani Thapa told THT they reached a conclusion that both Dahal and Oli needed to act as per the spirit of the unity document signed between the former CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre on 16 May 2018.

He said the two chairmen had reached an understanding that they would take turns to lead the government — for the first two-and-a-half years of the five-year term, one co-chair would run the government, while the other would run the party and vice-versa. “If the two co-chairs fail to act as per the spirit of the party unity document, maintaining party unity will be difficult,” Thapa said. He added that if Oli was forced to resign from both the top posts, he could split the party.

Twenty-five Central Committee members of the party, including Lekhanath Neupane, Jagannath Khatiwada, Thakur Gaire, Ram Kumari Jhankri, Himala Sharma and Ram Prasad Sapkota staged a sit-in at the party office, urging the top leaders to keep NCP unity intact.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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