Co-chairs' introspective document fails to allay leaders' concernsThe decision to enter into an electoral alliance with Rastriya Janata Party without informing the party has been widely criticised in the Nepal Communist Party Standing Committee.
Tika R Pradhan
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s old habits refuse to die, despite the submission of an apology-filled 11-page political document to the Nepal Communist Party. Even as the Standing Committee was discussing the document, Oli, who co-chairs the ruling party, went on to sign a two-point deal with the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal for an electoral alliance all on his own.
Party leaders say that an agreement with any other party should have been made with the knowledge of Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and General Secretary Bishnu Poudel. But Oli has long had a penchant for working unilaterally, instead of following the procedure and taking decisions through party meetings.
At Thursday’s standing committee meeting, leaders took exception to the deal, on the grounds that it had not been discussed with the party and that it only proved the party’s criticism of its leadership.
“Leaders have criticised themselves for not following the party procedure, but the two leaders struck the deal with the Janata Party while a crucial meeting was ongoing,” Bhim Rawal, a standing committee member, told the Post. “It’s our system that when crucial meetings are underway, any party decisions should either be discussed in the meeting or the meeting must be informed about it.”
Party leaders, including Rawal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Bamdev Gautam, Yubaraj Gyawali, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Mukunda Neupane and Raghuji Panta, have all demanded answers from the leadership. Even party Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha was against the leadership’s decision, said party insiders.
“How can we trust the co-chairs whose written self-criticism did not even hold up till the end of the Standing Committee meeting?” one party leader quoted Rawal as saying at the meeting. “This incident has made us suspicious over the implementation of the political document. We need to discuss this right away or else the meeting cannot go ahead.”
After vehement criticism from leaders, primarily from the Madhav Nepal faction, Dahal was forced to admit that Oli had kept him in the dark too.
“I only came to know about the deal when Oli called me to Baluwatar,” Dahal was quoted as saying in Thursday's meeting. “Since I felt it was a good deal, I agreed to it.”
But Dahal admitting his ignorance of the deal is a blow to his executive role in the party. Despite making Dahal executive chair of the party, it is now clear that Oli still holds the party’s decision-making power, say leaders.
“Oli will not transfer his authority to Dahal. Wednesday’s incident was the proof,” said Mani Thapa, a standing committee member.
According to Thapa, it was always clear that Dahal’s executive role was more symbolic than substantive.
A Standing Committee member who has close relations with Dahal said that Oli had not only managed to show that he was the sole authority of the party but had also included Dahal in his plot.
“Oli has been testing Dahal,” said the Standing Committee member. “But it is not only Nepal’s people, but also Oli’s men, including Ishwar Pokhrel, who have been criticising the document.” Pokhrel, the defence minister, is believed to be an Oli loyalist.
Since party leaders are not going to let the issue go without discussing it thoroughly, the Standing Committee meeting, which was supposed to conclude in two days, is expected to continue for two more days. Dahal is scheduled to present a revised joint political document by incorporating suggestions from leaders at Saturday’s meeting. The standing committee meeting, the first in one year, began on Sunday after Dahal was given chairmanship last month.