A party, two chairs and attempts to turn the tablesOli reiterates he won’t step down and objects to the plan to hold the Nepal Communist Party Standing Committee meeting, but the Secretariat decides to convene it today.
The two chairmen of the ruling Nepal Communist Party continued their attempts to turn the tables on each other on Saturday as well, with one saying there is no meaning of holding committee meetings and the other making a strong pitch for the same.
Despite KP Sharma Oli’s dissension, Saturday’s Secretariat meeting decided to hold the Standing Committee on Sunday.
“Today’s Secretariat meeting decided to go ahead with Sunday’s scheduled meeting of the Standing Committee,” party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told reporters after Saturday’s meeting at Baluwatar. “Both the proposals presented by the two chairmen will be taken to the Standing Committee.”
Dahal had presented his political document on November 13, levelling serious allegations against Oli and demanding that the latter make a sacrifice for the constitution and the system, insinuating that he step down both as party chair and prime minister.
In response, Oli presented his document on November 28, in which he not only provided point-wise rebuttal to Dahal’s allegations but also chided the latter, saying he was working against party unity. Oli has even said that Dahal’s document is nothing but a collection of indictments and that he should withdraw it.
Party members say Oli is still sticking to his call that there is no need to discuss Dahal’s document at any party committee.
On Tuesday, after sparring over the same issue and exchanging nasty personal remarks, Oli had walked out of the Secretariat meeting saying there was no meaning of such meetings. He skipped Wednesday’s Secretariat meeting too.
He attended Saturday’s Secretariat meeting, but maintained his stance that there is no need to hold meetings, including the Standing Committee’s, unless the agendas are pre-finalised.
Before Saturday’s meeting, Oli and Dahal held a one-on-meeting, after a gap of 25 days.
“Today’s discussion between the two chairs focused on ways to resolve the outstanding issues,” Shrestha told reporters.
On Thursday, Oli and Dahal had met with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who despite holding a non-partisan office has been actively engaged in party matters for which she has faced criticism repeatedly over the past few months.
According to a Secretariat member, Oli on Saturday was dead against taking the outstanding issues and the two proposals to the Standing Committee.
“But there was no way he could object to the decision by the majority of the members,” the member who refused to be named told the Post. “He, however, made it clear before the Secretariat that he won’t step down—neither as party chair nor prime minister.”
In the nine-member Secretariat, the Dahal faction, with the backing of Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, Bamdev Gautam and Shrestha, holds the majority.
Bishnu Poudel, Ishwar Pokhrel and Ram Bahadur Thapa are with Oli.
At Saturday's meeting, according to a member, Thapa had proposed formation of a task force to resolve the issue on political proposals—as to what should be done with those.
“Oli was open to that option and he proposed that Gautam lead the task force,” said the member. “But Gautam refused.”
Gautam, who has switched sides several times in the past, this time around appears to be sticking to Dahal, ensuring majority for the Dahal-Nepal faction.
In the 44-member Standing Committee, Dahal and Nepal have around 30 members with them.
Insiders say this could be the reason Oli is reluctant to take the issues to the Standing Committee. By the way Oli has held his ground, refusing to step down and challenging his opponents to do what they can, it looks like he still has a couple of cards up his sleeve, according to them.
In the Dahal camp, the one concern that has constantly remained is that Oli could split the party if the situation becomes too untenable for him.
Leaders, especially those who are close to Oli, say since dialogue at personal level has resumed between the two chairs, the situation will ease in the coming days. According to them, Oli and Dahal on Friday had spoken by the phone before holding the one-on-one meeting on Saturday.
Second-rung leaders from both sides including Shankar Pokhrel, Subas Nembang, Pradip Gyawali, Ghanashyam Bhusal, Barshaman Pun and Janardan Sharma over the last few days were actively working to bring the two leaders together, according to party members.
A leader close to Dahal said the one-on-one conversation is an encouraging sign for the party but no agreement has been reached between them.
Over the past few weeks, relations between Oli and Dahal have soured, with both resorting to nasty personal attacks at each other, drawing criticism from within party members for stooping too low.
A leader close to Oli said though things do not look good in the party, the crisis will be resolved, as the Standing Committee is expected to find a way out.
“There is no alternative to consensus. Any other step that is away from consensus will lead the party towards a split,” said Prithvi Subba Gurung, a Standing Committee member and chief minister of Gandaki Province. “We expect the Standing Committee to come up with some solution.”
But leaders from the Dahal-Nepal faction say Saturday’s decision to convene the Standing Committee meeting against Oli’s willingness signifies the victory for the group.
The Dahal-Nepal faction is now for taking decisions on a majority basis and the issues would soon land in the Central Committee, according to a leader close to Dahal.
The party’s Central Committee is scheduled to meet on December 10.
In the 445-member Central Committee also, the Dahal-Nepal faction has the majority.
“Oli is left with no option but to abide by the decisions taken by the committees,” said Bhusal, a Standing Committee member. “Sunday’s [Standing Committee] meeting will convene even if Oli refuses to join.”