Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is the chairman of the ruling CPN-UML, today suspended Madhav Kumar Nepal and Bhim Bahadur Rawal from the party for six months for anti-party activities.

In the suspension letter, Oli has told Nepal and Rawal that it was their last chance to reform themselves. He warned them that if they still didn't mend their ways he would take stricter action against them.

Oli said Nepal's clarification letter didn't express any remorse.

"On the contrary, it gave the impression that Nepal would continue factional activities to split the party. Nepal is not ready to introspect or mend. His intention to harm the interests of the party and the people was evident in his clarification letter that he had submitted to the party a few days ago," Oli stated in the suspension letter.

Oli said if Nepal reformed himself and stood in favour of the party, he could reduce his suspension period, but if he did not do that and continued with anti-party activities he could take stricter action against him.

Rawal wrote angry posts on Twitter condemning Oli's action against him. He said Oli was illegally holding the post of the 10th General Convention Committee chair and as such his action against him was not acceptable.

Rawal said that the PM's action against him and Nepal violated the party statute and directives of the ninth General Convention.

The UML faction led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal had objected to amendments made by the Oli faction on March 12 to the party statute and induction of 23 new members in the party's central committee.

The Nepal-Khanal faction has demanded that the old party structure and committees that existed before the UML's merger with the CPN-Maoist Centre be revived. Oli, however, has refused to rescind any of his decisions.

Oli had sought clarification from Nepal, Rawal, Surendra Prasad Pandey, and Ghanashyam Bhusal for carrying out factional activities.

Nepal had sided with Pushpa Kamal Dahal before the Supreme Court nullified the unification of Nepal Communist Party (NCP). They had removed Oli from key posts in the party -- cochair, parliamentary party leader -- as well as general member of the party. After the Supreme Court nullified the NCP unification, UML and CPN-MC have returned to their old status as independent parties.

The Nepal-Khanal faction leaders have claimed that in committees that existed before the UML's merger with CPN-MC, they were in majority, but Oli had changed that with his March 12 decision.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 30, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.