Ram Bahadur Thapa, Dahal’s long-time ally, joins the Oli factionThis is the second time Thapa has deserted his one-time comrade in arms.
Ram Bahadur Thapa, a long-time Maoist leader and Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s comrade in arms during the “people’s war”, has made a spectacular switch, joining the KP Sharma Oli faction after the Nepal Communist Party split on Tuesday.
Thapa is currently home minister in the Oli Cabinet.
Thapa was conspicuous by his absence at Tuesday's meetings separately called by Oli and Dahal.
“Thapa was in consultation,” said Kiran Bhattarai, press advisor to Thapa. “And now he has joined the central committee meeting at Baluwatar.”
Though there is no official announcement, Thapa appears to have made a symbolic announcement by joining the Oli faction’s meeting on Thursday that he is with Oli.
However, Gautam is yet to decide.
According to leaders, he had told leaders of the Dahal faction that he needed “a few days” to think.
But his press advisor Bishwomani Subedi said Gautam will wait for the Supreme Court’s decision and will begin a campaign to unite the two factions of the Nepal Communist Party.
On Saturday, a day before Oli dissolved the House, he had dropped by Thapa’s residence in Pulchowk while on his way back to Baluwatar from Khumaltar after holding talks with Dahal. Oli, according to leaders, had sought Thapa’s support, but it was not clear then whether he was planning the House dissolution.
Sources close to Thapa said he was bargaining for a better position.
“Oli has offered a higher position in the party, besides the home ministry. He would have joined the Dahal faction only if there was a better opportunity than that,” said a leader close to Thapa. “Most of the central members who were close to Thapa, however, have joined the Dahal faction.”
This is the second time Thapa has deserted Dahal. Back in 2012, Thapa, along with Mohan Baidya and Netra Bikram Chand, had parted ways with Dahal and formed their own Maoist party, saying that the Maoist party that led the decade-long “people’s war” had deviated from its ideology and left the revolution halfway. But the Baidya-Thapa-Chand alliance did not last long. Two years later in 2014, Chand decided to walk away to form his own party. Then in 2016, Thapa also severed ties with Baidya to return to Dahal’s fold.
He was given the powerful home ministry portfolio after the Oli administration assumed office in 2018 following the 2017 elections that the then UML and the Maoist party swept under a communist alliance.