As NCP heads into key meeting, fog thickens over who will lead organisation departmentSeveral ruling party leaders have raised concerns for months about the prime minister’s dual role, controlling the party and the government
A crucial meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party scheduled for Tuesday is likely to see an intense debate over the appointment of the head of the organisation department, just as the two co-chairs will try to assuage concerns over the growing trust deficit between them.
Party insiders say Bamdev Gautam has for quite some time been making a pitch that he should be appointed the chief of the organisation department and that party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal could back him.
This could change the whole dynamics in the party, as KP Sharma Oli, the prime minister and the other co-chair, could rope in Ram Bahadur Thapa, Dahal’s longtime ally, for the post.
This changed equation, according to a senior leader who spoke to the Post on Monday, can have far-reaching implications because of its timing.
“If the equation changes, it can have a long-term impact on the party as we are trying to settle all the outstanding issues as early as possible,” said Hemraj Bhandari, a central member close to Dahal.
“If the ongoing tussle continues, any other leader might get appointed the head of party organisation,” said Bhandari, who did not rule out Bishnu Poudel, the incumbent general secretary, as the head of the party organisation. In the erstwhile Maoist party, the general secretary led the organisation department.
In recent weeks, Dahal has brought up the issue of an agreement he had signed with Oli in May last year which talks about the two co-chairs taking turns to lead the government.
Dahal last week told Prime TV as well as reporters in Biratnagar that he believed the agreement would be upheld, as per which Oli needed to hand over the government reins to Dahal after 15 months.
Oli, who was in New Delhi then, told reporters—with a tinge of sarcasm—that there were only four to five days left for his tenure.
Political analysts and leaders within the party believe that the remarks from the two co-chairs were indicative of a trust deficit.
Party leaders said Tuesday’s meeting would also focus on preventing the trust deficit from widening further, as it is time for the party to move ahead in a united manner.
But if Gautam appears strongly during Tuesday’s meeting with his proposal of “one leader, one responsibility” again, it could stoke further debate that could delay the process of finalising work division and formation of the politburo.
Gautam, during the last Standing Committee, held in December last year, also had proposed “one leader, one responsibility”, as per which if Oli runs the government, Dahal should be leading the party.
As things stand today, Oli seems to be running the government as well as the party, for which he has faced criticism from a section of leaders within the ruling party.
“Many party leaders have been raising the issue of Oli’s unilateral way of functioning,” said Bishnu Rijal, a central member. “They have been demanding that Oli follow the procedure.”
A leader close to Dahal told the Post last week that former Maoists in the unified Nepal Communist Party were getting increasingly concerned over being sidelined.
Haribol Gajurel, a standing committee member, said there is nothing new about the agreement Dahal is talking about.
“It is a known fact that Dahal is in favour of Gautam and Oli is backing Thapa,” said Gajurel. “But if a concrete decision on who heads the organisation department is taken as per the leaders’ choice, it could certainly change the power equation.”
Gautam, a secretariat member, told the Post on Monday that all the leaders in the party were capable enough to soldier their responsibilities on their own. “Why should one leader be taking dual responsibility?” Gautam told the Post.
Asked whether he was keen to lead the organisation department, Gautam said he was yet to talk to the leadership about that.
“Discussions have not started yet to that effect, but I certainly have experience and I have proved my capacity,” he said.
Amid all this, some leaders said Tuesday’s meeting could also be overshadowed by discussions on the latest remarks made by the two co-chairs over the past few days.
While Oli and Dahal held one-on-one discussions on Sunday and Monday, the details of which were not disclosed to the media immediately, party insiders said the two leaders will have to clarify to the members about the recent developments.
“Dahal has tested the ground [by talking about the agreement publicly] and now he is likely to make his moves accordingly,” said a secretariat member on condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.
“Dahal has made his stance public; now it’s Oli’s turn to respond.