Dahal has his plate full as the ruling party goes into a crucial meeting todayPushpa Kamal Dahal has to deal with a host of issues during the two-day standing committee meet which is being held after almost a year.
The ruling Nepal Communist Party is holding its standing committee meeting on Sunday, after almost a year, with leaders describing it as a crucial moment since the merger of the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre in May last year.
A secretariat meeting called for Saturday to set the agenda for the standing committee meeting, however, was postponed until Sunday morning.
According to leaders, an amendment to the party statute will be high on the agenda of the meeting that is expected to continue until Monday. The leadership is amending the party statute to elevate Bamdev Gautam, a standing committee member, to the post of vice-chairman. Formation of the politburo, a crucial committee in communist parties, and party ideology are also expected to be discussed.
The meeting is also likely to dwell on the government’s performance, according to insiders.
Given the crucial issues awaiting discussion, leaders are anticipating a high-voltage drama.
The meeting will be chaired by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who was declared executive chairman last month. Another co-chair, KP Sharma Oli, is not likely to attend the meeting.
An amendment to the party statute to elevate Gautam is already being questioned, with leaders expressing discontent at giving too much importance to one individual.
A number of leaders who were vice-chairs in the former UML have already expressed their dissatisfaction. Senior leaders of the former UML are demanding that Asta Laxmi Shakya, Bhim Rawal and Yubaraj Gyawali, who were vice-chairs in the UML, should also be elevated if Gautam were to be promoted. The former UML vice-chairs have not been included even in the secretariat.
According to Beduram Bhusal, a standing committee member, how the leaders will react will depend on whether the leadership is going to make a concession while elevating Gautam.
“Let’s see how the proposal is floated as there are other vice-chairs from the former UML in the standing committee,” Bhusal told the Post.
The party ideology is also expected to take a significant amount of time at the meeting, according to a central member.
The UML followed People’s Multi-party Democracy while the Maoists’ ideology was 21st Century People’s Democracy.
Former UML leaders look adamant, with Shanker Pokhrel taking the lead, about giving up on People’s Multi-party Democracy. The former Maoist leaders have been making a pitch for adopting the 21st Century People’s Democracy.
Since the UML and the Maoists came from two different schools of thought, the ruling party currently has made “socialism-oriented people’s democracy” its “tactical political line”.
“Neither Dahal nor Oli can explain what people’s democracy actually means,” Hemraj Bhandari, a central committee member. “Former Maoists describe it as 21st Century People’s Democracy while former UML leaders say it means People’s Multi-party Democracy.”
Politburo formation will be yet another agenda, as senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has been making a push for it consistently.
Nepal, who feels sidelined in the party, is likely to try to expand his clout in the 145-strong committee to make his faction’s presence stronger in the party.
Dahal, who has started exercising his executive muscle of late, does not want to perturb Oli, while he will also try to keep Nepal happy to maintain the party dynamics. Last month’s decision to let Oli lead the government for the full term and declare Dahal executive chairman also stemmed from Oli’s concerns after Dahal and Nepal started coming closer.
Yet another agenda the standing committee is likely to take up is the evaluation of government’s performance, which also can be tricky for Dahal, according to party insiders.
According to a leader, discussions on government performance in the absence of Prime Minister Oli may not bode well for Dahal. Party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha, however, ruled out government performance evaluation in the meeting.
“I don’t think the meeting will discuss it in the absence of another co-chair and prime minister,” Shrestha told the Post.
At the meeting, Dahal will present a political paper which he has been preparing for the last few days. According to leaders, Saturday’s secretariat meeting was postponed until Sunday morning because of Dahal’s busy schedule.
The meeting is also expected to discuss a meeting of the central committee, which has not convened even once since the merger. A central committee meeting is essential to endorse the proposal to amend the party statute.
Leaders said they are optimistic about the party moving forward more smoothly after the standing committee meeting.
“The standing committee meeting and a subsequent central committee meeting will give a new lease of life to the party,” said Bhandari. “Meetings in the coming days will also help resolve the outstanding issues related to party unification.”