EDITORIAL: Split in NCP
The non-ideological feud in the ruling NCP has finally led to the vertical split within 31 months of its unification
Thirty-one months after the unification between the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist-Centre) to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), the ruling NCP vertically split yesterday, following the non-ideological feud between the factions led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Kumar Nepal. The split became more evident after the PM recommended the dissolution of the House of Representatives (HoR) on December 20, two years earlier than its five-year term was to end, and announced the dates for the snap polls to be conducted in two phases on April 30 and May 10 after coming to know that the Dahal-Nepal faction was home-working to table a no-trust motion against him in the parliament. Both the factions held separate central CC meetings at different venues and took disciplinary actions against each other for “acting against the party’s statute and norms”. They even informed the Election Commission about the disciplinary actions taken against each other, reshuffled their respective CCs and amended the party statues.
The Oli faction, which held its CC meeting at the PM’s official residence at Baluwatar, formed a 1,199-member convention organising committee and decided to hold its 10th general convention next year in November. Although Oli, while addressing his CC meeting, said no action would be taken against others – Dahal and Nepal – most of the names from Dahal’s faction were not included in the revised list of Oli’s CC. Oli faction has decided to hold cadres’ gatherings in all seven provinces today to inform them about the latest political development.
As both the factions have claimed themselves to be the legitimate NCP, the EC will have a tough time deciding which of the factions holds the legitimacy and which of them will get the party’s election symbol – the Sun – the most familiar election symbol among the voters. It is also learnt that the Oli faction had already submitted a memo to the EC about the disciplinary action taken against Dahal and Nepal before the latter submitted the same. At the same time, lawyers have also filed 11 writ petitions at the Supreme Court challenging the HoR dissolution, the hearing on which will start from today. Earlier on Monday, the Dahal-Nepal faction took part in a meeting called by the main opposition, the Nepali Congress, where they asked NC boss Sher Bahadur Deuba to either form a coalition government if the House was reinstated or launch a collective legal battle against the House dissolution.
All eyes are now focussed on the apex court. It will interpret the constitution and also give its verdict on whether the PM’s move is legitimate. But one thing is clear: people will suffer from the ongoing political instability, which will further weaken the already shattered economy caused by the pandemic. It will set yet another bad precedence in Nepal’s political history.
The people will lose faith in democracy and the current political system. It all happened because of the intra-party feud within the ruling NCP, which came to power with an overwhelming majority three years ago on the promises of ensuring political stability and a corruption-free administration. With the ruling party’s vertical split, it will take years for the communists to stage a comeback through elections.
Pay the farmers
Following days of protests by the farmers and persuasion by the government, some sugar mills like Annapurna Sugar Mills and Shreeram Sugar Mill have started to pay money they owe to the farmers.
Last year, a tripartite agreement was reached between the government, sugar mills and farmers, under which the mills were to clear all dues. However, the mills reneged on the deal, forcing the farmers from different districts of central and eastern Tarai to travel to Kathmandu last week to stage protests in the capital. The sugar mills owe more than Rs 650 million to the farmers, money they have been refusing to pay for the past several years.
The sugarcane crushing season has begun, but in some districts of eastern Nepal, there has been a sharp drop in its harvest because farmers are switching to other crops. Nepal imports sugar worth billions of rupees every year, however, the non-payment of the farmers is discouraging them from taking up sugarcane farming. There is no reason why some sugar mills cannot pay the farmers while mills in west Nepal have no problem doing so. The government must wield the stick, if necessary, to have the remaining sugar mills clear all the farmers’ dues.