All eyes on Oli as Secretariat members await his roadmap to address party feudWhile Gautam toys with the idea of taking charge as prime minister, Nepal and Dahal are not keen on the proposal, party insiders say.
By offering prime ministership to party Vice-chair Bamdev Gautam and party chair to senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Wednesday managed to silence calls for his resignation–at least until Saturday.
While the party Secretariat awaits a written document from Oli on how to go about implementing his “surprise proposal”, Nepal Communist Party insiders say that
Gautam has started toying with the idea. But the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction and the Pushpa Kamal Dahal camp are not keen on it, and together they could play spoilsport.
“How the situation unfolds will depend on Prime Minister Oli’s roadmap [to back up his recent proposal] to be presented during the Secretariat’s meeting on Saturday,” said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, spokesperson for the party.
Gautam’s road to Singha Durbar appears long and fraught with legal and constitutional challenges, but that hasn’t deterred him from dreaming about it. “As far as I know Gautam, has been assured by the prime minister that the proposal [to make him prime minister] is genuine,” said a close aide to Gautam. “He has already started consulting legal experts on the prospects of a constitution amendment [to allow him to be nominated to the Upper House and elected prime minister].”
The aide said Gautam is also waiting for the prime minister’s proposal expected to be presented during the meeting on Saturday.
Party insiders say that Oli came up with the proposal as part of his ploy to prolong his stay in power. As Dahal and Nepal are going to reject the idea, the scheme will be shot down.
Senior leader Nepal has already made it clear that he won’t be swayed by Oli’s proposal to make him the party’s “third chairman” as its intention was to disgrace him.
“This proposal has been brought just to disgrace me and show that I am hungry for power,” Raghuji Pant, a Standing Committee member, quoted Nepal as saying. “Who becomes prime minister or lays claim to the party chair is secondary. I am fighting to establish a system in the party,” Pant quoted the former prime minister as saying.
Meanwhile, on Friday, both the Oli and Dahal camps met to strategise for the key meeting the next day.
Oli’s allies, including Chief Ministers Shankar Pokhrel, Sherdhan Rai and Prithvi Subba Gurung, deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party Subash Nembang and foreign minister Pradip Gyawali were in Baluwatar to discuss possible scenarios that could emerge on Saturday. A leader considered close to Oli said they expect Dahal and Nepal to ask Oli for a timeline for his exit from power.
Dahal also held his share of discussions with Standing Committee allies Surendra Pandey, Bhim Rawal and Matrika Yadav, among others.
The meetings come a day after Oli tried to get Nepal on board his plan, but failed, to Standing Committee members confirmed to the Post. A day later, he tried his luck with
Dahal by trying to assure him that he would change the way he runs the government, and rival factions would have to stop demanding his resignation.
Following Oli’s attempt to get Dahal and Nepal to cooperate, the two former prime ministers met at Nepal’s residence in Koteshwor. A party insider told the Post that Dahal and Nepal are likely to have agreed to propose that Oli’s roadmap be discussed at the Standing Committee. A handful of Standing Committee members present at the meeting demanded that the Secretariat finalise a date for a Standing Committee meeting at the earliest. They could also stick to their demand that Oli step down first, and the rest of the issues be discussed later.
“If Saturday’s secretariat meeting fails to convene a standing committee meeting, 20 standing committee members will collect signatures of other members to press the leadership to do so,” said Matrika Yadav, a standing committee member.
Yadav said Oli could refrain from talking about Gautams’s issue on Saturday as some of his allies have already advised him that making Gautam prime minister was impossible and it would only make things difficult for him.
Some leaders close to Nepal have said Oli has already agreed to step down and therefore he could opt to test his majority in the Parliamentary Party. If he gets through, it will silence calls for him to step down.
“It would be better to test the prime minister’s majority in the Parliamentary Party. If he can prove his majority, everyone will accept it and if he fails to do so he will concede defeat,” said Bishnu Rijal, a central committee member. “Doing so will demonstrate respect for the party, the system and the people’s verdict. What could be a better way out than this for a democratic party?”