As ruling party Standing Committee meeting continues, top leadership is roundly criticisedParty leaders blamed the leadership for failing to hold regular meetings, which has only served to entrench factionalism within the party.
Tika R Pradhan
The second day of the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s Standing Committee meeting saw a barrage of criticism against the party leadership, despite Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s acceptance of failures on the leadership’s part.
Most leaders took issue with the party’s failure to hold regular meetings of the central committee and the Standing Committee. The ongoing Standing Committee meeting is being held after a year.
“Due to delays in holding crucial meetings, the party is suffering,” said Ganesh Shah, a Standing Committee member. “We need to make up for the losses that we have suffered because of the lack of regular meetings.”
On Sunday, the first day of the Standing Committee meeting, Dahal had presented a political paper that admitted to the failure to hold regular meetings. The paper, undersigned by co-chair KP Sharma Oli, also said that factionalism was growing in the party and that there had been incidents of betrayal and counter betrayal.
“The party has yet to be institutionalised,” read the paper. “Instead, anarchy is prevailing and there have been incidents of betrayal and counter-betrayal.”
The CPN-UML and the Maoists merged a year-and-a-half ago to form the Nepal Communist Party but leaders have failed to conclude the unification process, largely due to internal factionalism.
During Monday’s meeting, leaders from the Madhav Nepal camp, including Asta Laxmi Shakya, Bhim Rawal and Yubaraj Gyawali, said that the leadership was attempting to bypass the major party committees by not holding meetings that are not only necessary to the functioning of the party but also crucial in forming the politburo, a crucial committee in any communist party.
While it is unlikely that the politburo will be formed anytime soon, the Standing Committee is likely to reach a decision on calling the central committee meeting, which has not convened even once since unification.
According to Ishwor Pokhrel, a secretariat member, politburo formation will be discussed at the upcoming central committee meeting, which is proposed for the third week of January, according to Dahal’s political document.
The party’s failure to hold regular Standing Committee and central committee meetings, along with the failure to form the politburo, has only served to entrench factionalism in the party, said Standing Committee members. Many pointed to a proposal to amend the party statute to elevate Bamdev Gautam to the post of vice-chair as emblematic of this factionalism. A section of party leaders has been questioning the rationale behind amending the party statute in favour of just one individual.
According to Standing Committee member Shakya, party leaders believe in the strict implementation of ‘one leader one responsibility’ in order to circumvent factionalism. Madhav Nepal had raised this issue earlier when pro-Oli leaders—Prithvi Subba Gurung and Shankar Pokhrel—were given dual responsibilities as both provincial chiefs and chief ministers.
Standing Committee member Bhim Rawal, who has been criticising the party leadership, also demanded an end to the increasing share of political appointments coming from the President’s office.
“Leaders in constitutional bodies must follow their decorum,” said one Standing Committee member, hinting at media reports regarding the activities of President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who has been actively lobbying in favour of some party leaders.
Many also questioned the competence of the secretariat, saying that it had failed to run the party, said Shakya. They have demanded a 15-member party secretariat with seats for women. Currently, the party has a nine-member secretariat without a single woman leader.
Initially, the Standing Committee meeting was scheduled to conclude on Monday, but as several members have yet to comment on the paper and discussions on some crucial issues are pending, it will continue for two more days, according to Standing Committee member Pampha Bhusal.