With Oli maintaining grip on both party and government, Dahal feels sidelinedDahal has been consistently pointing out to past agreements between the two chairmen and remarking that there’s nothing for him to do anymore.
On Saturday, Co-chair of the ruling Nepal Communist Party Pushpa Kamal Dahal was in Nanglebhare for a family retreat. It is an established pattern for Dahal to often leave the Valley for a secluded destination whenever he feels low.
Before and during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kathmandu, it appeared like things were looking up for the ruling party and between its two co-chairs. All party activities had been halted for weeks in preparation for Xi’s visit.
But a week after Xi came and left, the party has yet to pick up where it left off. And Dahal’s discontent is brewing.
On October 13, hours after Xi returned to Beijing, at a tea party hosted by the Nepali Congress, Dahal made an unusual statement, saying he feels like he is “with coworkers” when he is among Congress leaders, that “politics can take any turn” and that “nothing is impossible in politics”.
Later, on Friday, Dahal told the party’s political training session in Dhangadhi, albeit in a lighter vein, that he had no role in the party and therefore he had just been “wandering the districts”. He had also raised the fact that the party’s other chair had not lived up to agreements made during the unification process, something he has been saying at public forums for several months.
Maoist leaders believe that KP Sharma Oli, who is both prime minister and party co-chair, won’t allow Dahal to handle the party unless a critical situation arises, even though Dahal has long brought up the gentleman’s agreement between the two to take the reins of government in turns.
Maoist leaders say that a secretariat meeting held on the day Oli left for Singapore for treatment had decided to allow Dahal to lead the party while Oli focused on the government. But Oli has been ignoring the decision.
“The secretariat’s decision must be implemented,” said Yubaraj Chaulagain, a central committee member. “There is no option but for both co-chairs to patch up their differences.”
But Dahal is clearly unhappy with the manner in which he is being treated by Oli. This discontent has only been fed by Oli’s recent interview with Kantipur, the Post’s sister paper, where the leader touched upon some party issues.
In the interview, Oli expressed concerns over Dahal raising the power-sharing agreement unnecessarily and mentioned that there would always be seniors and juniors in the party. He also said there were attempts within the party to rupture the unification process.
“Oli made cheap comments about another chairman,” said a central committee member who is close to Dahal. “Dahal was not in a good mood. There appears to be something wrong in his relationship with Oli.”
According to party leaders, Oli’s comments appeared to single out Dahal and the former Maoists.
For Dahal, things have gotten worse since his longtime confidante Krishna Bahadur Mahara was taken into custody on rape charges.
“Things have escalated after the Mahara incident,” said Mani Thapa, a central committee member who is close to Dahal. “Dahal’s recent statements could be a warning for Oli regarding negotiations.”
Since Mahara resigned as House Speaker, there is an ongoing debate over who should become the next Speaker. As Mahara was a former Maoist leader, the ruling party’s Maoist faction would naturally want one of their leaders. But according to party insiders, the likelihood of that happening is low. If Oli chooses a former UML leader for the post of Speaker, it could further sour relations between the two factions—or Oli and Dahal for that matter.
By Oli’s own admission, there is no immediate threat to party unity. Nor is Dahal at this point of time likely to take any drastic step, according to leaders inside the NCP.
Ghanashyam Bhusal, a standing Committee member, sees a pattern when it comes to Oli abiding by the agreements he made in the past.
“I can’t recall our prime minister following agreements made with Madhav Nepal, Bamdev Gautam and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Or previously with Jhala Nath Khanal,” Bhusal told the Post. “The onus now lies on Oli to prove that agreements are made to be implemented.”
What do you think?
Dear reader, we’d like to hear from you. We regularly publish letters to the editor on contemporary issues or direct responses to something the Post has recently published. Please send your letters to email@example.com with "Letter to the Editor" in the subject line. Please include your name, location, and a contact address so one of our editors can reach out to you.