Oli elected UML chairmanThe epic fight between two CPN-UML leaders came to an end on Tuesday evening with Parliamentary Party head KP Oli edging out two-time party chief Madhav Kumar Nepal
This puts to rest two weeks of controversies and disputes that embroiled the second largest party in Constituent Assembly.
While some of Oli’s lieutenants—Vice-chairpersons Bam Dev Gautam and Bidhya Bhandari, General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel and Deputy General Secretary Bishnu Poudel—emerged victorious in the 14-member Office Bearers, the same number of candidates were elected from the Nepal panel. On Nepal’s side, Yubaraj Gyawali, Bhim Rawal and Astha Laxmi Shakya got the vice-chairperson’s posts while Ghanashyam Bhusal secured the deputy-general secretary position and Gokarna Bista, Yogesh Bhattarai and Bhim Acharya were elected secretaries. Secretary-elect Prithivi Subba Gurung and Pradeep Gyawali are Oli supporters.
In a statement released soon after the results, chairman candidate Nepal congratulated Oli on his election to the top party post. Former PM Nepal thanked the representatives who voted for him and his panel.
“I express my best wishes to the new leadership for success in the party’s future endeavours,” Nepal stated.
With the mixed outcome, it will be difficult for newly elected party chief Oli to steer the party organisation to his liking. Oli is considered as a straightforward leader within and outside the party who rarely backtracks on his decisions.
“The representatives have given a mixed mandate. Therefore, the party chief cannot run party affairs solely on his will,” said newly elected Deputy-general Secretary Ghanashyam Bhusal.
In an unprecedented case of party statute violation, two panels went to the polls with rival candidates. Outgoing chairman Jhala Nath Khanal opposed the idea arguing that it would weaken the party by fuelling factional feud.
“Today, I am happier than anybody else. I was well aware of this situation. Party cadres used their wisdom to save the party from factionalism,” said Khanal.
The conclusion of the election process comes as a relief to the common people who were barred from walking around the Bhrikutimandap venue at the heart of the city for two weeks.
Party leaders hope the election of the new leadership will provide impetus to the constitution writing process and make possible larger political deals, which were held hostage as more than 2,200 UML leaders and cadres were directly engaged in the jamboree.
“We missed some meetings called for speeding up the constitution writing process. Statute drafting will gain momentum now,” said Vice-chairman-elect Yubaraj Gyawali. Oli is said to be committed to constitution promulgation as promised in the seven-point agreement signed between the NC and his party prior to the installation of the Sushil Koirala-led government in February.
The UML extended its support to the NC after the latter agreed to seek a fresh mandate for endorsing President Ram Baran Yadav and Vice-president Paramananda Jha from Parliament.
The delay in implementing the deal concerns Oli, who wants an amendment to the Interim Constitution to renew the tenures of the President and his deputy. The agreed way of endorsing the top officials is not a constitutional provision. “The constitution needs amendment for implementing the agreement,” OIi had told the Post ahead of the convention.
Oli is not against giving continuity to the coalition at least before January 22, the deadline for finalising the constitution, but is averse to electing another NC leader as PM if Koirala’s health deteriorates. In that case, UML PP leader Oli wants Deputy Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautam, who has been elected a vice-chairman on his side, to lead the government.