Row lingers in ruling party over ‘one leader, one responsibility’ issueIt was KP Sharma Oli who set the rule and now he is breaking it, which a section of leaders is opposing.
When KP Sharma Oli decided to fight for the Parliamentary Party leader of the erstwhile CPN-UML, after party chairman Jhala Nath Khanal became the prime minister in 2011, he had convinced party leaders that the party must follow the ‘one leader, one responsibility’ rule.
Since Oli won the crucial position, the UML had been following the rule.
But eight years later, Madhav Kumar Nepal is reminding Oli of the same rule — Oli currently has a dual role as he heads the government as well as the party.
After Oli refused to follow the rule in the newly formed Nepal Communist Party (NCP), work division of central committee members has been delayed.
With Thursday’s meeting failing to make any headway, the secretariat meeting has been stalled for the next couple of weeks.
Violation of the ‘one leader, one responsibility’ rule started with the formation of provincial committees where the party inducted Chief Ministers Prithvi Subba Gurung of Gandaki Province and Shankar Pokhrel of Province 5 to head the party’s respective provincial committees.
When the party’s secretariat took the decision, senior leader Nepal and spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha were away. The decision created quite a furore within the party, especially among the rank and file of the former UML. Later, Nepal agreed to move ahead with the merger of party committees but only after writing a ‘note of dissent’ on that particular decision of the party secretariat.
“Oli has set all his people in the governments and parliamentary committees and he wants them to lead party committees as well, which is not possible,” said Bishnu Rijal, a central committee member close to Nepal. “Oli had established the rule in the UML but now he has been saying that one person should be given multiple responsibilities just to strengthen his position in the party.”
The proposed list of leaders in charge of districts and their deputies was rejected by Nepal claiming that it included the names of many ministers and parliamentary committee chairs from both the central and provincial governments and assemblies.
However, Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, according to leaders, said that the leaders having some responsibilities including ministers should be given second priority for new responsibilities. They claimed that Dahal, who led the decade long armed struggle, did not oppose the ‘dual responsibilities’ assigned to the leaders close to Oli.
In the Funtibang meeting of the rebel Maoists in 2005, Dahal had put his deputy Baburam Bhattarai in confinement after he had opposed the chairman’s move to centralise all power – military, party and the different fronts — accusing Bhattarai of attempting to create multiple power centres.
The Maoists party had always exercised centralisation of power in the chairman but after the party joined mainstream politics, it seemed to have assigned single responsibility to a leader.
“One-leader-one responsibility became effective after the party floated it in an intra-party circular but its violation started right from the formation of provincial committees,” said Mani Thapa, a standing committee member.
Though most leaders were for strictly following the rule for distributing responsibilities among all the party leaders, top leaders have been fighting over it so as to strengthen their groups.
“Though the move may not have much impact on national politics, it would certainly kill the hopes of party cadres,” said Rijal. “If you are to finish any party you should kill the hopes of its cadres and Oli is doing so.”
Right after the formation of the central committee, the party had issued the circular not to select the members of parliament and ministers to the executive position of the party but that has been continuously flouted.
While selecting the leadership of the 77 districts, a task that took almost a year, the party again flouted the ‘one-party-one-responsibility’ rule. The Madhav Nepal faction, which was against the idea, also agreed to it after all three factions agreed to continue with the people leading the two parties before their merger.
“The leaders’ decision to dump the one-leader-one-responsibility rule to serve their interests has already created problems,” said Hemraj Bhandari, a central committee member.
Leaders close to Oli, however, said the rule has already been defunct and cannot be implemented at least before the unity convention. “Now political responsibilities will be managed based on the party’s need,” said Surya Thapa, a central member close to Oli. “It won’t be implemented for now as some factions of the party are raising the issue with the hope to become more powerful.