Oli is in a tight spot, again, of his own making, insiders sayBoth Dahal and Nepal have ignored his overtures and are pressing for a Secretariat meeting to discuss all outstanding issues.
After Prime Minister and party chair KP Sharma Oli’s “unilateral” moves despite agreeing to take decisions on the basis of consultation and consensus, the faction led by the other chair, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, is once again building pressure on him.
Over the last few days, Dahal ignored Oli’s overtures. More than half a dozen leaders close to Oli have made rounds of Dahal’s residence in Khumaltar.
According to sources, Oli and Dahal, who used to have a meeting almost every day, had not met for the last 11 days. On Saturday, Dahal reached Baluwatar and held a meeting for around two hours. Dahal is now seeking a meeting of the party Secretariat, according to leaders close to him.
Insiders say the current situation in the party arose because of Oli himself, as he refused to abide by the party’s decisions.
“Oli must comply with the decisions taken by the party’s September 11 Standing Committee. Or else he will have to face the consequences,” said a Standing Committee member who did not wish to be named.
The Standing Committee had endorsed a 15-point decision drafted by a six-member task force which was formed to resolve the months-long conflict in the party. The decision said the prime minister will take decisions on major issues in consultation with the other chair and the party Secretariat.
“But Oli failed to do so,” said the Standing Committee member, also a member of the task force. “Oli will face a tough time if he refuses to abide by party decisions.”
After the September 11 decision, the seven-week-long tug-of-war was said to have ended. Some insiders, however, had told the Post that they wondered how long the truce will last.
“I have been saying all along that the ceasefire was just for a temporary period; conflict has surfaced yet again,” said Raghuji Pant, also a Standing Committee member who is considered close to senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. “Dahal appears to be extremely concerned after Oli went on to make unilateral decisions against the party’s decisions.”
Leaders say the reemergence of conflict in the party is a cause for grave concern, as the country is faced with multiple crises caused by the pandemic.
According to Dahal’s private secretariat, the chairman during Saturday’s meeting with Oli called for holding a meeting of the party Secretariat to discuss all contemporary issues, including the Karnali conflict, Oli’s meeting with Indian spy chief, the killing of a former Maoist leader in a clash, Cabinet reshuffle and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dahal has been suspicious if the move to file a no-confidence motion against Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi was instigated by Oli. As many as 18 provincial assembly members, 15 of them representing the former CPN-UML, had on October 11 filed a no-confidence motion against Shahi, who represents the former Maoist party. Though the issue has been settled now, the incident has sown the seeds of discord in the party.
The death of Mukesh Chaurasiya, a former Maoist leader from Parsa, after he was injured in a clash between supporters of Oli and Dahal too has added to the conflict in the party. Chaurasiya, who was severely injured during the clash on October 21, had died during treatment the next morning.
Leaders from the Dahal and Madhav Nepal camps have also taken exception to Oli’s meeting with Samant Goel, chief of India’s foreign intelligence agency, on October 21, without the party’s prior knowledge.
According to leaders close to Dahal, the chairman wants all these issues to be addressed through a Secretariat meeting.
Earlier, on October 17 and again on October 25, party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha had written to the party chairmen demanding that all outstanding issues be resolved through a party Secretariat meeting.
Oli’s proposal to Nepal to join hands also failed to get the desired response, making it even more difficult for him, say insiders. Dahal agreed to hold a meeting with Oli after a gap of 11 days after consultations with Nepal. Leaders say that Dahal, who had refused to meet Oli saying he was not interested in meaningless talks, went to Baluwatar after Nepal suggested that he demand a Secretariat meeting.
Leaders said Oli’s fate now will depend on how Dahal makes his moves, as he continues to have Nepal’s backing.
“It’s now up to Dahal and how Oli responds,” said Pant. “But if we want a lasting solution to deep-rooted problems in the party, we need to find a political solution. Addressing some technical issues does not help.”
Leaders close to Oli, however, say the prime minister is for continuing one-on-one meetings with Dahal so as to address the outstanding issues.
“Now the two chairs will continue meetings and discuss ways to implement the party decision,” said Subas Nembang, a Standing Committee member. “Secretariat meetings will take place on an as-needed basis.”