With the new twist in internal dynamics, ruling party defers Standing CommitteeOli walks out of Secretariat meeting, citing health reasons, after coming under pressure again.
The much-awaited meeting of the Standing Committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party scheduled for Thursday has been postponed.
According to party General Secretary Bishnu Poudel, the meeting was postponed after discussions between Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Oli and Dahal held separate talks after Oli left the Secretariat meeting, citing health reasons.
As the Secretariat meeting could not proceed further, the Secretariat members had urged Dahal to hold talks with Oli and find a date for the Standing Committee meeting.
Both chairmen agreed to defer the meeting but no date has been finalised yet, said Poudel.
Earlier on Saturday, the Secretariat meeting had handed over the responsibility of charting out the agenda of the Standing Committee and table it at Wednesday’s meeting to further discuss it.
But due to Oli’s non-cooperation, Dahal and Poudel could not chart out the agenda.
Upset with new power dynamics inside the Secretariat after sliding into the minority with Bamdev Gautam once again switching sides, Oli wanted to defer the meeting, according to two Standing Committee members.
The decision to defer the meeting has miffed Standing Committee members.
“Not holding the meeting or deferring it is not a solution,” said Standing Committee member Raghuji Pant.
On Wednesday, as soon as the Secretariat meeting began, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal had demanded that the Standing Committee should be held without any delay to discuss the shortcomings of the party’s leadership both in the party and the government.
Nepal also accused Oli of weakening the party unity and failing to run the government as per the expectations of people.
One Secretariat member told the Post that Oli defended his leadership as the prime minister and the party chair in response to Nepal’s remarks.
“I did not get support from the party from the very beginning. I was the victim of conspiracy and I was cornered,” the Secretariat member quoted Oli as saying in his defence.
The leader said that Oli also told the Secretariat members that there was no urgency to call the Standing Committee meeting since he had already withdrawn the two ordinances as per the demand of some committee members.
Nevertheless, Oli’s refusal to convene the Standing Committee meeting was contested by Nepal, Dahal, Gautam and Jhalanath Khanal.
When his fellow co-chair Dahal reminded Oli that it would be against the spirit of the party if he refused to call the meeting called by the two-thirds members, Oli walked out of the meeting hall.
“After 20-25 minutes into the meeting, Oli suddenly left the hall, saying he was tired and not feeling well,” another Secretariat member that the Post talked to said.
Wednesday’s Secretariat meeting was scheduled to fix the agenda for the party’s Standing Committee meeting, which had been scheduled for 11am at the party headquarters in Dhumbarahi earlier in the day.
After Oli left the meeting, the remaining eight Secretariat members continued the meeting to discuss how to move ahead and how to call the Standing Committee meeting.
As the meeting was progressing, Oli reportedly entered the hall after about an hour and reiterated that there was no reason to call the Standing Committee meeting and that he did not approve of the “one post, one responsibility” model— an idea proposed by leader Nepal which will compel Oli to relinquish either the post of the prime minister or the party chair.
While leaders say that Oli walked out of the meeting decidedly perturbed after finding himself in the minority with Gautam siding with the Dahal-Nepal camp,party General Secretary Poudel said that was not the case at all.
“Some of our friends are making fun out of the meeting,” Poudel told the Post. “The Secretariat had handed over the responsibility to me and chairman Dahal but we could not prepare the proposal. The prime minister had to work throughout the day so he was exhausted.”
Poudel added that before leaving the meeting due to ill health, Oli had asked the Secretariat members to prepare the proposal to be tabled in the Standing Committee.
Party Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha also said that Prime Minister Oli had to leave the meeting as he was not well.
While the rescheduled date of the Standing Committee meeting is yet to be announced, two leaders close to the Dahal-Nepal faction told the Post that with Dahal and Nepal standing together, they now command a majority in the Standing Committee if they decide to stand against Oli.
“Our position is clear, the party leadership should go for ‘one person, one responsibility’ model. Similarly, there should be free and open discussion about the function of the government as lots of issues have surfaced. The party, however, should remain united,” Yubaraj Gyawali, a Standing Committee member, said.