In the ruling party, leaders wait and anticipate Oli’s next stepsKP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal appear to be on the same page, but it’s not clear if they have decided on ‘one leader, one responsibility’.
Now that Prime Minister and Co-chair of the Nepal Communist Party KP Sharma Oli is back home after two weeks in Singapore for his medical treatment, party insiders believe some unfinished tasks will soon be taken care of. But they don’t know how internal politics will unfold. Party leaders have to wait until at least next secretariat meeting, they say.
“Among other outstanding issues, the two leaders are holding serious discussions on clearly defining the roles of party members,” said Devendra Poudel, a standing committee member. “Everything depends on the next move of Co-chair Oli.”
Although there was an agreement on conducting meetings in turn, Oli for the first time in the 15 months since the unification of the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre allowed Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal to chair party meetings before flying to Singapore on August 22.
But confusion persisted, as Oli said Dahal could hold meetings but decisions should be taken through consensus, which meant Oli’s nod was a must. Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is not happy since his relegation to the fourth rank in the party, had objected to it.
But in Oli’s absence, Dahal took a slew of decisions. Though these decisions might not have a far-reaching impact, they definitely were symbolic in nature, a leader told the Post on condition of anonymity.
Some leaders also believe that Oli had called General Secretary Bishnu Poudel and leader Bamdev Gautam to Singapore after sensing that Dahal was preparing to take some more decisions and conclude all the remaining tasks of the unification in Oli’s absence.
Though Oli and Dahal appear to be on the same page, leaders believe there still is some distrust between the two chairmen. The general understanding is Oli now onwards will run the government and Dahal will lead the party, but confusion will be cleared only after the next meeting, say insiders.
“It is too early to say if Oli will allow Dahal to lead the party,” said Ghanashyam Bhusal, a standing committee member. “We need to see what steps he takes next.”
Meetings in the coming days are going to be crucial, according to multiple leaders the Post spoke to.
Nepal, who has already registered a note of dissent with seven points, including one that calls for “one leader, one responsibility”, is set to demand discussion.
Discussions on his note of dissent will then lead to discussion on the decision to appoint Gautam as the party vice-chair. If Gautam were to be appointed the vice-chair, the party needs statute revision, which could open Pandora's box as seniority row will deepen further, according to leaders.
“If what was finalised at the time of unification is changed now, the leadership must accept the hierarchy that was in place in the former UML,” said Beduram Bhusal, a standing committee member close to Nepal. “Why did leaders leave several senior UML leaders behind and induct deputy general secretary in the secretariat with the responsibility of the general secretary?”
Some standing committee members say the leadership is set to face a host of questions whenever the party holds its next meeting.
According to Bhusal, who has close relations with Nepal, ‘one person, one responsibility’ will be the major issue the Nepal faction will be raising.
Yubaraj Gyawali, also a standing committee member, on Saturday said that ‘one person, one responsibility’ should be implemented right from the co-chairs.
“The debate over single responsibility has already found its place in party meetings,” said Gyawali at an interaction in the Capital. “The next standing committee will have to take the discussion forward.”
Among the leaders from the former Maoist party, there is already optimism that Oli and Dahal would unanimously decide on running the party and the government.
“Things have moved ahead positively,” Haribol Gajurel, also a standing committee member, told the Post. “There are enough indications that Dahal will lead the party while Oli runs the government. If the responsibilities of the two leaders are not properly defined, both the party and the government would be ruined.”