Ruling party moves forward only to take a step back againThe latest disagreement comes over Oli’s minor political appointments but his opponents say he has gone back to his old ways again.
Despite the two co-chairs making promising noises of late, the months-long wrangling within the Nepal Communist Party shows no signs of abating as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, as if to test waters, decided to make a number of minor political appointments.
The appointments, which the Cabinet endorsed on Monday, were made without consultations within the party and with co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Oli’s detractors claim.
The Dahal camp has asked the prime minister to annul the appointments.
Oli’s latest “unilateral decision” has affected the workings of the six-member task force formed to come up with recommendations to resolve the longstanding dispute within the party.
“The task force has lodged a complaint to the prime minister as some of our members said the meetings would be affected if the appointments were not annulled,” said a member of the task force, on condition of anonymity, following its meeting on Thursday evening.
But leaders on Oli’s side accuse the rival faction of making an issue out of a non-issue.
Subash Nembang, the NCP deputy leader in parliament and a close confidant of the prime minister, said that these appointments were already on the cards and they are nothing new.
“But leaders have blown it out of proportion,” Nembang told the Post on Friday.
But the Dahal faction does not seem to be willing to accept this viewpoint.
On Thursday, Dahal met Oli at Baluwatar and urged him to withdraw the decisions on recent appointments saying that would affect the agreement, but the prime minister refused.
“Dahal told Oli that if the unilateral appointments continue it would be difficult to forge any agreement,” said a leader close to Dahal asking not to be named.
Dahal’s meeting with Oli followed a meeting between Dahal, Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Narayan Kaji Shrestha at Khumaltar on Wednesday. The Khumaltar meeting had concluded that resolution of disputes in the party would be difficult if Oli continued with his unilateral way of taking decisions.
On Monday, Oli’s Cabinet had decided to appoint Durga Bhandari as acting chairperson of Press Council Nepal, Devraj Roka as vice-chairman of Youth and Small Entrepreneurs Self-employment Fund, Loknath Subedi as treasurer of Social Welfare Council, former secretary Mahesh Dahal as chairman of Revenue Board and former joint secretary Nirmal Hari Adhikary as member of the Revenue Board.
Prime Minister Oli has told Dahal that the appointments were in the process and not new. “He won’t make any new appointments now. Things have already been settled on that,” said Nembang.
But Oli’s detractors seem to be standing their ground.
During its meeting on Thursday evening, the task force discussed how to move forward if Oli does not annul the appointments, said the task force member.
The six-member task force, headed by party general secretary and Oli’s troubleshooter Bishnu Poudel and with two members each from the Oli, Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal’s sides, was expected to recommend a Cabinet reshuffle, among other things.
“Oli’s activities have stalled our meetings for a few days and therefore it may take more time to complete our task,” said the task force member.
“We have continued with the meeting but it would be difficult if Oli’s behaviour does not change.”
Oli taking unilateral decisions is nothing new in the party. In fact, party insiders say, Oli’s working style is one of the major issues that caused the dissatisfaction in the opposition faction led by Dahal.
“Oli had agreed with Dahal that he would consult the party before making appointments and only after Oli’s word the leaders had agreed to form the task force,” said a Standing Committee member close to senior leader Nepal. “But his latest move on making unilateral appointments has raised questions over the existence of the task force.”
Political analysts who follow left politics in Nepal also agree that Oli’s way is nothing new. He is not a person who follows party procedures and decisions and it is fact known to everyone, according to Shyam Shrestha a political commentator.
“All this is not Oli’s fault but of those who believe in his words,” he said. “He has some inborn characteristics—he never listens to anyone, never sticks to his word, never follows party procedure, never remains under anyone and never controls his speech.”