Oli keeps mum on revoking ordinance, leaving everyone confused and guessingA day after agreeing to withdraw the ordinance, Oli called and then cancelled the Constitutional Council meeting, later refusing to even discuss it in the Cabinet.
“If you cannot convince them, confuse them.”
Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party chair KP Sharma Oli seems to have not only been heavily inspired by this saying, attributed to the 33rd American President Harry S Truman, but also been implementing it in earnest.
A day after agreeing to withdraw the ordinance on the Constitutional Council Act that stirred backlash within his party and outside, Oli on Thursday called a Council meeting for 5pm. But within hours, after his meeting with Pushpa Kamal Dahal, his fellow chair in the party, he called off the Council meeting.
Questions were being asked as to why Oli called the meeting at 5pm when a Cabinet meeting was scheduled for 6pm which was expected to take a decision on recommending to the President the repealment of the ordinance.
The Cabinet meeting did take place late in the evening, but no discussion was held on withdrawing the ordinance.
“Today’s Cabinet meeting did not discuss anything regarding the ordinance,” Minister for Land Management Padma Kumari Aryal told the Post.
Many in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) say Oli has “his own style” of functioning. That’s the reason the opponent faction is demanding Oli’s resignation, according to them.
With the faction led by Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal upping the ante against Oli, the latter has been trying every trick in the book to hold on to power.
The sudden issuance of ordinance on Tuesday was one of the measures Oli tried to put their opponents in check. But the move backfired, as leaders from his own party as well as analysts and experts on constitutional matters described it as something tantamount to committing a fraud on the constitution.
The Dahal faction’s major gripe about Oli is he has refused to abide by party decisions.
But by not taking any decision on withdrawing the ordinance, Oli has once again defied the party order.
After Wednesday’s Standing Committee meeting, party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told reporters that the committee meeting had unanimously decided to withdraw the ordinance.
Party insiders say leaders are now running out of patience as instead of mending ways, Oli is engaged in more mischief.
“It’s high time the party took a decision about him,” said Ashta Laxmi Shakya, a Standing Committee member. “There is no point in waiting until Sunday for the Standing Committee meeting to convene. If Oli has no intentions to withdraw the ordinance, the party should call an emergency meeting and take action against him for not abiding by the party decision.”
None of the party leaders could provide a concrete answer to why Oli decided to call the Council meeting as per the new provisions of the ordinance despite agreeing to withdraw it.
Speculations were rife earlier in the afternoon that the Council meeting could make some recommendations to fill some constitutional body vacancies.
Until the ordinance is revoked, the amended clauses on holding the meeting and taking decisions will remain in force.
There were chances that Oli could have convened the meeting in the presence of the chief justice and National Assembly chair and taken decisions.
As per the amended provisions, the Council can hold a meeting if the majority of the existing members are present and decisions can be taken through majority.
Other members in the Council are Speaker, leader of the opposition and deputy Speaker.
According to sources, Oli decided to call off the meeting after his meeting with Dahal and intimation from the chief justice about his inability to join in.
What exactly transpired between Oli and Dahal on Thursday afternoon was not immediately known. But sources said Dahal reminded Oli of the party decision a day before on revoking the ordinance and asked him not to hold the Council meeting.
According to a Standing Committee member, Oli told Dahal that he would withdraw the ordinance only after meeting with the President.
“Oli told Dahal that he would decide on withdrawing the ordinance only after consulting the President,” the member told the Post.
After his meeting with Oli at Baluwatar, Dahal had briefed leaders of his faction that Oli was still “dilly-dallying” to withdraw the ordinance.
Oli’s move of issuing the ordinance on Tuesday has put the Office of the President also in a tight spot. Earlier in April also Oli had issued the same ordinance only to withdraw it within five days after criticism. The President then had repealed the ordinance as swiftly as he had endorsed it, based on the recommendation of the Cabinet.
The President has already drawn a lot of flak for failing to maintain the dignity of the office she holds.
If the Oli government recommends repealment of the ordinance, the President will have no option than to repeal it, which is likely to cause furore once again.
Insiders say Oli’s wayward actions are not only bringing the office he holds into disrepute but also giving ample ground to people to question his legitimacy to govern.
“All his moves are aimed at clinging on to power. So at times he dangles the bait of the prime minister’s chair before [Bamdev] Gautam while other times he pretends to be forging a secret deal with Dahal, seeding suspicion in the [Madhav] Nepal group,” said Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member. “Gradually he is losing the support of his own people. The party does not have full confidence in him now.”
Many say Oli was not keen to withdraw the ordinance until late evening on Wednesday. He agreed only after some leaders, including his close confidantes Subas Nembang, Shankar Pokhrel and Bishnu Poudel convinced him to consider the far-reaching complications of the ordinance.
Leelamani Pokhrel, also a Standing Committee member, said questions have now arisen over Oli’s competence to govern.
“How can a person who leads the party and the government display such erratic behaviour?” said Pokhrel. “Why on earth would anyone call a meeting of the Council based on the provisions of an ordinance which he agreed to withdraw a day before? Oli has lost the moral ground to lead the party and to govern the country.”
Though some believe Oli had introduced the ordinance in a bid to put his opponents in check, the move worked as a catalyst to unite them even more strongly. As many as 83 lawmakers from the Dahal-Nepal faction on Wednesday had reached the Office of the President to demand a special session of the House.
The party’s Standing Committee on Wednesday evening decided to stall the plan to call the special House session after Oli agreed to withdraw the ordinance.
“But if Oli refuses to withdraw the ordinance, the party will head towards confrontation,” said Raghuji Pant, also a Standing Committee member. “The longer Oli refuses to abide by party decisions, the more tussles we will have in the party, which won’t benefit anyone.”