Panel recommends ruling party jamboree in April but not everyone is convincedThe pandemic, lack of preparations at all levels, and dispute within the party leadership make implementing the recommendation a challenge.
The six-member task force formed to draft a proposal to resolve the internal dispute within the ruling Nepal Communist Party, has proposed that the “national convention of unity” be held in the second week of April. But leaders say doing so won’t be possible.
Leaders doubt that the event can be organised in April given the pandemic and lack of preparations at all levels. How and when the dispute within the party will be settled, will also determine the fate of the convention, they say.
“Organising the national convention in April is impossible,” said Raghuji Pant, a member of the Standing Committee. “This corona pandemic could take at least one-and- half months to slow down. By then, we will have the festival season, and when that ends, we will only have two-three months left for the event.”
The second meeting of the party’s Central Committee on February 2 decided the dates for convention, a first since the then UML and CPN Maoist Centre parties entered into a merger in May 2018. Along with the decision, the meeting had also announced plans to complete the merger at all levels within 15 days, and launch a three-month-long national campaign. But neither of the plans materialised. The party’s ranks, meanwhile, stand divided between three camps—one each led by KP Oli, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal.
“But the leaders could opt for a convention just for the sake of it,” said Pant. “If they are thinking of doing so, it will only invite further conflict within the party. Nobody will back such a decision.”
Party insiders say that as the government has imposed lockdown in almost all districts, renewing party memberships at the grassroots and convening of the meetings of various committees are not possible.
However, Standing Committee member Gajurel said preparations for the convention will begin after the party endorses the proposal submitted by the task force on Saturday. The task force has proposed that the Central Committee convene from October 1-3 to make necessary preparations for the national convention, according to a task force member.
“Schedule for the Central Committee meeting will be set after reviewing the situation of the pandemic. But the national convention will be held on the basis of consensus,” said Pampha Bhusal, a member of the task force. “If the leaders agree to our proposal, the convention can take place under a fast track process.”
Most party leaders have criticised the task force for making an impractical recommendation as it won’t be possible to organise it even if everyone in the party were ready for it. But they believe co-chairs Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal may have reached some sort of an understanding for them to be ready to organise the convention. Party sources say that such a stance adopted by Dahal has irked many, including his allies.
“We believe that there must be some kind of understanding between the two chairs,” said a Standing Committee member close to senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. “Not only Madhav Nepal, both Jhalanath Khanal and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, leaders considered close to Dahal are also saying that Dahal betrayed them.”
Leaders considered close to Dahal said that the recent developments in the party was possible because of the understanding between the two chairs. “The party has now returned from the brink of a split, and that is a major achievement for now,” said Gajurel. “Oli will now have to back Dahal at the national convention.”
But Madhav Kumar Nepal’s allies are against the idea of a “fast track” convention. The convention is the most powerful body of the party, and it needs to take decisions independently. “No one is against the dates for the national convention decided by the Central Committee, but we must follow the due processes devised by the party,” said a Standing Committee member close to Nepal. “One can’t violate the system while organising the convention, the apex body of a communist party.”
According to party insiders, vigorous discussions on the party's political ideology need to take place before the convention. But with leaders still unwilling to let go of the ideologies of their former parties, the discussions are yet to begin.
Though the former UML updated its list of members, the Maoists are yet to do so—complicating the process even further. The former Maoist party, which had four thousand central members, is likely to face a tough time choosing representatives for the convention.
As per the party statute, the party must conduct conferences of all lower committees including at the ward, municipal, district and the provincial levels which will take several months with many of them having disputes.