Dahal-Nepal faction convenes Standing Committee meeting unilaterally in the absence of OliAround two dozen Standing Committee members are present in the meeting but some former Maoist leaders like Lekhraj Bhatta, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Mani Thapa are absent.
The faction led by chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has convened the Standing Committee meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party after the other chair KP Sharma Oli refused to budge from his stance, telling the rival group to “do whatever” they can.
Leaders from the Dahal faction had gathered at Baluwatar earlier on Tuesday for the meeting that was scheduled for 11am. However, Oli was not keen to hold the meeting.
Oli’s Press Advisor Surya Thapa told the Post that the meeting had been postponed, but Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member, said that the meeting would be held at any cost, even if Oli refused to attend.
Dahal and another senior leader Jhalanath Khanal then went to meet with Oli only to return to the meeting hall after the latter told them to do whatever they wished to.
According to one Standing Committee member, Dahal briefed the Standing Committee members present at Baluwatar about his meeting with Oli.
“Let’s not call this a Standing Committee meeting,” the member quoted Dahal as saying. “It is of course a meeting of the majority of members though.”
Dahal also urged the party leaders not to indulge in any activity that could prompt a party split.
The leader said around 25 Standing Committee members are present in the meeting.
Former Maoist leaders Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Minister Lekhraj Bhatta, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Mani Thapa, however, are not present.
After the Dahal-Nepal faction convened the meeting at Baluwatar, Yogesh Bhattarai, a ruling party leader and minister in the Oli Cabinet, warned of an accident.
“A disaster is imminent. Let’s exercise restraint. Let’s talk,” Bhattarai wrote on Twitter.
After a brief lull in the ruling party, both Oli and Dahal, who were in negotiations for weeks since July 2, have once again hardened their positions, stoking conflict in the party that was formed in May 2018 after the merger of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre0.
The Dahal faction is now demanding that Oli must resign as party chair. Oli, however, has threatened to take stern steps if he is pressed into stepping down.
Until July 2, the Dahal faction was pressing Oli to step down both as party chair and prime minister.
There, however, was some semblance of peace in the party after Oli coaxed Dahal into talking, even offering the sole chairmanship through an earlier general convention of the party. The offer, however, came with strings attached–that Dahal had to accept People’s Multiparty Democracy as the party’s ideology.
A leader close to Dahal told the Post last week that it took a while for Dahal to realise that accepting Oli’s offer could boomerang on him, as that would have meant not only alienating his allies like Nepal and Khanal but also undermining the “people’s war” that he led for 10 years.
As Oli continued to harden his position, hinting at not stepping down from either of the positions—party chair or prime minister–the Dahal faction decided to launch a fresh salvo.
“Today’s meeting has asked Dahal to ensure another meeting at the earliest in consultation with Oli,” said Haribol Gajurel, a Standing Committee member present at the meeting.