Dispute in ruling party now set to reach Central Committee as Oli and Dahal fail to find a common groundMadhav Nepal was invited to the meeting in hopes of a deal, but stalemate continues as Oli refused to resign either as party chair or prime minister.
Just a day before the scheduled Standing Committee meeting, two factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party led by KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday engaged in a series of consultations, starting from talks between them, in the presence of senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, in the afternoon and then discussions among the leaders of their own groups.
After Oli and Dahal failed to find a common ground during their one-on-one talks last week as well as on Wednesday, the two chairs invited Nepal on Thursday in a bid to iron out the differences in the party, which has come close to a split.
According to insiders, the three leaders in the afternoon discussed if all outstanding issues could be left for the Central Committee to decide.
“Today’s meeting between the three top leaders agreed to take all the disputed issues to the Central Committee,” said Mani Thapa, a Standing Committee member.
Later on Thursday, the Dahal-Nepal faction held a meeting at Dahal's residence in Khumaltar and decided to call a meeting of the Central Committee.
The Oli and Dahal-Nepal factions have been at odds for weeks now.
The Dahal-Nepal faction, which controls the majority in the Standing Committee, has been demanding that Oli step down both as prime minister and party chair.
Until a few weeks ago, the Dahal-Nepal faction was quite close to forcing Oli to capitulate.
Oli’s allegations were countered by the Dahal-Nepal faction, but Oli’s move of ending the House session put it on the backfoot, as they sensed a party split.
According to leaders, even if the party faced a split due to Oli’s stern measures, as he had indicated by proroguing the federal parliament, the Dahal-Nepal faction would have appeared as the cause and they wanted to avoid that.
Subsequently, the Standing Committee meeting was postponed and Oli and Dahal began talks in a bid to find a way out.
The last time the Standing Committee met was on July 2. The meeting is scheduled for Friday.
Now pressure is mounting on the leadership not to postpone the meeting anymore.
“The Standing Committee is likely to meet on Friday and it could conclude after discussing some regular issues like Covid-19 and floods and landslides,” said Thapa.
Oli so far has refused to relent to the rival faction’s demand of stepping down as both party chair and prime minister.
During their one-on-one talks, according to insiders, Oli and Dahal have tried to work out a power-sharing deal, but without involving Nepal and other leaders including Jhala Nath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam, such a deal is impossible, say leaders.
According to a leader, Dahal cannot afford to reach a deal with Oli secretly, leaving Nepal, Khanal and Gautam in limbo, as with their support he had upped the ante against Oli until a few weeks ago.
If the developments until Thursday evening are anything to go by, the issue of Oli’s resignation is likely to be taken up by a Central Committee meeting, some time in the third week of August.
The Standing Committee, however, needs to set the date for the meeting of the 445-member Central Committee, the highest decision-making body of the ruling party.
“We have decided to take the disputed issue to the Central Committee,” said Raghuji Pant, a Standing Committee member who has close relations with Madhav Nepal.
The Dahal-Nepal faction hopes to get decisions in its favour from the Central Committee, as it enjoys a majority there, with just 30 percent members on Oli’s side.
In the 44-member Standing Committee too, Dahal and Nepal together have a majority.
Some say negotiations are underway on power sharing among the three leaders and Dahal wanted Oli to deal with Nepal.
That’s why Nepal was called in at Thursday’s meeting between Oli and Dahal, according to a leader.
Subas Nembang, a Standing Committee member and a close confidante of Oli, said he could not say much at this time as leaders are still talking.
“For now, the meeting of the Standing Committee has been fixed. Two chairs will sit before the meeting on Friday,” Nembang told the Post.
“I have heard that Dahal and Nepal demanded Oli’s resignation during today’s talks. But I have also heard that talks are heading towards a solution. Things will be clear after Friday’s meeting.”