Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who chairs CPN-UML, today told the UML's parliamentary party that he would not rescind the March 12 decision to amend the party's statute and induct 23 former Maoist leaders in the party's central committee. The rival faction of the party led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal had claimed that those decisions violated the party's statute, but Oli said they were taken by valid party bodies.

UML lawmakers from the rival faction had boycotted the parliamentary party meeting held on March 18 and 20, but most of them attended today's meeting and challenged Oli's March 12 decision.

Lawmaker Jeevan Ram Shrestha told mediapersons that Khanal raised the concerns of lawmakers close to Nepal and Khanal. Khanal told Oli that to keep the party intact he should revive all the party committees that existed before the UML's merger with the CPN-Maoist Centre.

UML Chief Whip Bishal Bhattarai told mediapersons that Oli denounced the clarification letter submitted by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Bhim Bahadur Rawal and threatened punitive action against them. Both stayed away from the parliamentary meeting today as well.

"The next central committee meeting will decide the punitive action Nepal and Rawal might face," Bhattarai said. Oli said Ghanashyam Bhusal and Surendra Prasad Pandey would furnish a better explanation than Nepal and Rawal. Bhusal and Pandey were also told to furnish an explanation for anti-party activities.

According to UML Chief Whip Bishal Bhattarai, the PM said he was ready to listen to personal grievances of party lawmakers, but would not tolerate factionalism within the party.

Oli said the House of Representatives would be prorogued soon as the government was preparing to call the budget session in April.

Minister of Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel asked party lawmakers to submit their development project plans for the new fiscal budget.

Meanwhile, the Nepal-Khanal faction, which had sided with Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), held its central committee meeting here today and decided to fight against Oli from within the party.

Raghuji Panta said 60 central committee members, mainly from around Kathmandu valley, took part in the central committee meeting and decided to continue to fight for their cause from within the party. "We have decided to fight for our cause from within the party to make UML a strong and dynamic party that follows party rules and norms," Panta added.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 27, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.