Oli’s dissolution of House exposes the fault lines in Nepali CongressParty President Deuba’s detractors accuse him of being soft on Oli and say that continuous agitation is needed, if the House is not restored, so that the government is compelled to hold elections on announced dates.
The Nepal Communist Party has been split following its chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s unilateral decision to dissolve the House of Representatives on Sunday.
But the repercussions of that move are being felt in the Nepali Congress, the main opposition in the dissolved Parliament, and the fault lines in the party have been exposed.
The debate is over how the party should react to the House dissolution and the party’s 102-member Central Working Committee has been meeting to chalk out a strategy.
While the anti-establishment faction led by senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel wanted protests over three days against the dissolution, party President Sher Bahadur Deuba wanted only one day of protest. Deuba’s view prevailed and the party has decided to hold protests in all 165 electoral constituencies on Monday, December 28 against the “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” move of House dissolution.
But protests would also compel the Oli government to hold the elections on the announced dates, according to party leaders.
Poudel is in favour of continued agitation on the streets so that Oli is compelled to hold elections in April and May, according to party leaders.
Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Bimalendra Nidhi, the party vice president and an ally of Deuba until he announced his candidacy for the party president to be elected by the 14th general convention, said, as he later related to the Post, only Parliament can protect and preserve the achievements like federalism, secularism, democracy and inclusiveness.
“Now, we have two options to have a Parliament. The Parliament can be restored by the court’s verdict or it will be constituted by fresh elections,” he said at the meeting. “Therefore, we have to be ready to constitute the House through the elections though we have to hold agitation on the streets against Oli’s undemocratic move.”
Also speaking at the meeting on Thursday was Prakash Man Singh, who, according to a number of Central Working Committee, traded strong words with Deuba after he accused Deuba of being soft on Prime Minister Oli and that people are not happy with the present leadership of the Nepali Congress and there is a growing call to remove the incumbent leadership.
Deuba in turn challenged Singh to remove him through the general convention.
“It is not enough only to issue a statement against Oli’s move to dissolve Parliament but we have to stage continuous demonstrations across the country,” Singh said at the meeting.
To this Deuba accused Singh, who was elected as a lawmaker from Kathmandu in the 2017 general elections, of poor show in the Capital during the party’s nationwide protests against the government on December 14, which had been spurred by the police manhandling and brief detention of its senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel in Tanahun.
So divided is the party that the factions belonging to Deuba and Poudel held separate meetings to chalk out their views to be presented at the Central Working Committee meeting, according to Gururaj Ghimire, a central member
Since views on the position the party should take seem to be divided, another leader, Arjun Narsingh KC, said at the meeting that a special general convention should be held to decide on the position, according to him.
“ I said Nepali Congress should be ready for the elections but I doubt elections will happen on time,” KC told the Post.
This view seems to be shared even among the youth leaders of the party.
“Our party and leadership is deeply polarised on holding demonstrations against Oli’s unconstitutional move,” Pradip Poudel, a youth leader told the Post. “If elections are our focus, then we need to put pressure on the Oli government because it is not honest to hold the elections on the declared dates.”
Senior leaders are also mindful of Oli’s posturing.
The Nepali Congress should be mindful of the message that Oli is giving to the public on the one hand while his intentions are something else, said Nidhi, referring to the view that he may not hold elections.
“He may say elections could not happen due to the agitation and behaviour of our party,” said Nidhi.