A cornered Oli pulling out all the stops to gain support in the partyAfter attempting to woo Madhav Kumar Nepal, the ruling party chair is in a bid to resurrect the task force that had come to his rescue a few months back.
After being cornered in his Nepal Communist Party, KP Sharma Oli, the party chair and prime minister, seems to be in a bid to revive the six-member task force that apparently came to his rescue back in September.
A day after holding a meeting with senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who has become his bete noire of late, Oli on Monday had called a meeting with the members of the task force, which in September had suggested ways to “save the party unity”.
Nepal is currently with the faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the other chair, which has been piling pressure on Oil to abide by party procedures and party decisions and call a meeting of the Secretariat.
The meeting of the task force, however, could not convene.
“On behalf of Oli, Bishnu Poudel, the party general secretary, had called a meeting at Baluwatar. But we did not meet after members from the former Maoist party did not show up,” said Surendra Pandey, a Standing Committee member and a member of the task force. “We had already met Oli yesterday and there was no point in meeting again without the two leaders.”
The six-member task force formed in September consisted of Shankar Pokhrel and Bishnu Poudel from Oli’s side, Bhim Rawal and Surendra Pandey from Nepal’s side and Pampha Bhusal and Janardan Sharma from Dahal’s faction.
As per the suggestion of the task force, a meeting of the Standing Committee had taken a 15-point decision, due to which party had averted a split.
But conflicts resurfaced in the Nepal Communist Party after the Dahal-Nepal faction alleged that Oli failed to abide by the September 11 decisions.
Among others, the September 11 Standing Committee decisions said that Oli would lead the government for the full term, that Dahal would run the party as executive chair, and that all government- and party-related decisions would be taken in consultation and consensus among the top leaders.
After Oli refused to abide by the decision and went ahead with unilateral decisions, the Dahal faction said the party must hold a meeting of the party Secretariat. Oli was reluctant.
On Friday, the Dahal faction held an “informal” meeting of the Secretariat and decided to press Oli for a Secretariat meeting. Accordingly, the Dahal faction on Saturday gave a letter to Oli, asking for a meeting of the Secretariat. Oli has refused to respond.
Insiders say Oli, however, has realised that he has been cornered in the party as the Dahal-Nepal faction this time around is not in a mood to give in.
That’s why Oli is pulling out all the stops, according to insiders.
Oli on Sunday held a meeting with the Nepal faction, attempting to gain their support, but according to leaders, Nepal demanded a “clear cut” way out from Oli if he really wants to save the party from splitting.
Monday’s meeting with the task force could not take place because two of the members–Janardan Sharma and Pampha Bhusal–refused to join, saying that the significance of the task force has been over with the conflict reaching a new height.
According to them, its significance was over as soon as it submitted its recommendations on how to save the party. The September 11 Standing Committee meeting had taken the decisions as per the task force recommendations, they say.
“We didn’t join the meeting because the party’s conflict has already reached a new height even after the Standing Committee suggesting, as per our task force recommendations, ways for the party on how to move ahead,” said Pampha Bhusal, a Standing Committee member who was a member of the task force. “Now leaders should think from a new angle. It’s the leadership that has failed to implement the Standing Committee’s decisions.”
Insiders say Oli’s attempt to huddle together the members of the task force is aimed at countering the Dahal faction. It actually is aimed at wooing Nepal, they say.
After a shouting match and disparaging comments for each other at Saturday’s meeting, it has become more apparent that the party has a tough time ahead. The Oli and Dahal factions are clearly divided and unless they find a common ground, the party looks headed for a split, insiders say.
According to a Standing Committee member and a member of the task force, Oli seems to be ready to offer Nepal the chairmanship of the party to save himself.
“Oli has clearly told Nepal that he would support the latter for the party chairmanship in the general convention,” said the Standing Committee who attended Sunday’s meeting between Oli and the Nepal faction. “Oli was seeking [Madhav] Nepal’s help. But Oli had nothing substantial to convince Nepal as to how that would help remain the party united.”
Earlier, Oli had invited Nepal for a meeting twice on October 20 and 27. He had even sent his advisors and ministers to Pradip Nepal to convince Madhav Nepal.
On Sunday, Oli had invited Madhav Nepal, Bhim Rawal, Surendra Pandey and Raghuji Pant to find a way out of the ongoing crisis.
They held discussions for almost three hours during which Nepal told Oli to come up with a concrete proposal to resolve the existing crisis, saying that Oli was responsible for all the current problems in the party and governance.
“This is a party formed by collective efforts of all but due to your unilateral working style, problems have emerged,” a leader quoted Nepal as telling Oli. “Since you [Oli] are the party chair and the prime minister, you must give a way out.”
During the meeting Oli had urged Nepal to do something to resolve the problem or else the party could split. But Nepal remained non-committal, saying Oli would be held responsible if the party split, according to the leader.
Insiders say Oli has no option left than to arrive at a decision to hold the party meetings as demanded by the opposition faction. According to them, the Dahal-Nepal faction will take their own decision if Oli continues to refuse to hold the party meeting.
“I think Dahal and Nepal are for holding party meetings at any cost if Oli refuses to correct himself,” said Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member close to Dahal.
Oli on Monday sent Bishnu Poudel, the party general secretary and a member of the Secretariat, to Dahal’s residence, with a message that Dahal should stop demanding an immediate party meeting and that a Secretariat meeting could be held after two weeks.
But Dahal is for holding a meeting as soon as possible, by Tuesday or Wednesday, according to a leader close to Dahal. According to leaders, Dahal has run out of patience as he feels Oli has taken him for granted for too long.
“Oli has hurt Dahal a lot. He is not going to accept any of Oli’s proposals,” said Yadav. “In consultation with Nepal, Dahal may call a meeting of the party Secretariat in a day or two.”