Dahal-Nepal faction to ask Oli to fall in line or face the musicDahal briefs Secretariat members at an ‘informal’ meeting on Oli’s warning that a formal meeting without his consent would mean declaration of party split.
It looks like Nepal Communist Party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his current allies, Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, have declared a war on KP Sharma Oli, the other party chair and prime minister.
A day after the chairmen’s meeting, which failed to yield any substantive results, Dahal on Friday called an “informal” meeting of the party Secretariat, in a symbolic move aimed at mounting pressure on Oli.
According to Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a Secretariat member, Dahal briefed them that Oli on Thursday said holding any formal meeting without his consent will mean declaration of a party split.
“Chair Dahal called an informal meeting and all the members who were present today have agreed to jointly put pressure on Oli to agree for a formal meeting,” Shrestha told the Post.
Oli and two of his confidantes–Bishnu Poudel and Ishwar Pokhrel–as well as Ram Bahadur Thapa, a long-time ally of Dahal, did not attend the meeting.
Dahal, Shrestha, Nepal, Khanal and Bamdev Gautam were present in Friday’s meeting. Gautam, who until a few weeks ago was in the Oli camp, has once again switched sides to stand with Dahal.
“We will jointly meet Oli and ask him to abide by the procedures—calling party meetings and resolving all the outstanding issues through the meetings,” Khanal told the Post. “We have been consistent on our demand that Oli must abide by the party decisions.”
A ceasefire had returned to the party on September 11 after both Oli and Dahal agreed on the recommendations made by a six-member task force that was formed in the wake of rising tensions in the ruling party. The leadership had reached an understanding that Oli would lead the government, in consultation with the party, while Dahal, in the capacity of executive chairman, would run the party.
Insiders say Dahal, backed by Nepal and Khanal, is so infuriated that he is not going to give in this time.
According to leaders, the Dahal faction will pile utmost pressure on Oli to fall in line and abide by the party decisions. After a shouting match on Thursday, leaders close to Dahal say he is not keen to hold one-on-one meetings now onwards and is demanding a meeting of the Secretariat.
Oli has been refusing to hold party meetings without forging an understanding with Dahal first. Oli has even threatened to take a “big action” if party meetings are called and decisions taken.
Leaders, however, were unsure what could be their next move if Oli refused their call for holding party meetings.
“We will cross the bridge when we come to it,” said Khanal. “Let’s not assume anything at this time. If Oli refuses to hold meetings and abide by the party decisions, we will think about our next step.”
In the nine-member Secretariat, the Dahal faction commands the majority, even though his long-time ally Thapa seems to be siding with Oli. And this majority in the Secretariat seems to be Dahal’s strength to force Oli to capitulate.
Oli, however, could use some weapons in his arsenal—an ordinance to change the law to make party split easier and the dissolution of Parliament. And this could make Dahal reluctant to make a decisive move, resulting in a long-drawn-out stalemate.
Party members close to the Dahal-Nepal faction say their leaders are playing their cards close to their chests this time and they seem to be firm not to lose the ground.
“There is no option for Oli than to abide by the party decisions. If Oli continues to defy the calls for party meetings, he is sure to face consequences,” said a Standing Committee member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Let’s see how things unfold, as leaders have decided to collectively call on Oli to hold party meetings.”
According to the member, the Dahal-Nepal faction is holding a card or two up their sleeve to counter Oli and that they won’t let Oli have his way so easily this time.
Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member close to Dahal said party leaders are sick and tired of Oli’s high-handedness.
“I think Dahal and Nepal are not going to relent this time,” Yadav told the Post.