MK Nepal declared chairman candidateLess than a month before the party’s ninth general convention, a faction of the CPN-UML has fielded former party chief Madhav Kumar Nepal as its candidate for the new chairman.
UML Secretary Yubaraj Gyawali proposed Nepal as the candidate for the party chief at a function on Saturday while hundreds of supporters who poured into Kathmandu from across the country endorsed his name.
Gyawali said Nepal’s candidacy was essential to develop the party as the largest force in the days to come, strengthen its organisation, bring in other communist parties into the UML fold and institutionalise the federal republic and effect socio-economic transformation in the country.
“His candidacy is necessary for keeping the party intact and making it more dynamic in the changed context,” said Gyawali. Over a dozen central committee leaders who addressed the gathering highlighted Nepal’s role in keeping the party intact and increasing its influence beyond the party. They described Nepal as the leader with vision, coordination skills and a clean image.
“We cannot accept the one who wrote a note of dissident when the party proposed to go for a republic or compared the mission of abolishing monarchy as an act of reaching America riding a bullock cart,” said Rajendra Pandey, indicating rival chairman candidate KP Sharma Oli.
Leaders supporting Nepal cited Oli’s poor health as the reason for electing Nepal the party chief. Siddhilal Singh questioned the leadership ability of ailing Oli who is in Bangkok receiving treatment.
Nepal, who remained the party chief for 15 years before the 2008 CA polls, faces competition from Parliamentary Party (PP) leader Oli. Opponents have raised the issue of him having led the party earlier to weaken Nepal.
A majority of Standing Committee members and leaders are backing an untested Oli. Vice-chairpersons Bam Dev Gautam and Bidhya Bhandari, General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel, Secretaries Shankar Pokharel and Bishnu Poudel want Oli as the new party leader. The faction has fielded Gautam, Bhandari and Pokharel for senior vice-chairman, vice-chairperson and general secretary positions, respectively.
The Nepal-led progressive panel, however, has not decided over other candidates in the lack of “preparations”. Party insiders said Nepal favours former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey for the general secretary post which Bhim Rawal claims. Asta Laxmi Shakya and Yubaraj Gyawali are likely to run for vice-chairpersons.
Oli supporters say incumbent Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal has no moral ground to reclaim the leadership having been at the helm a couple of times. Pokharel said that Nepal’s candidacy would be against the party statute as he has already served two terms as the party chief.
Dissatisfied with growing factionalism in the party, Khanal has refused to contest again. Consequently, many leaders who supported him in the past are helping Nepal in staging a comeback. Gyawali, Surendra Pandey, Ghanshyam Bhusal, Gokarna Bista, Yogesh Bhattarai, Parshu Meghi Gurung and Prakash Jwala back Nepal.