Oli claims his faction’s Central Committee is the legitimate oneAs tenure of Central Committee expired in May, it was up to him to form new one to hold party’s convention, he says.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has claimed that the Central Committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party he formed after inducting loyalists to it is the legitimate Central Committee of the party.
In a response to the Election Commission’s asking for clarification on the dispute within the party, Oli claimed that the erstwhile Central Committee of the party had a fixed tenure of two years and it expired on May 15 after the general convention couldn’t be convened by then.
Oli added that as serious questions were raised about the legitimacy of the Central Committee, he as the principal office-bearer, formed the new Central Committee and set fresh dates for the general convention, the supreme decision-making body of the party.
In his letter to the Election Commission, Oli, who leads one of the factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party after it split into two, refused to accept that the party had split and maintained that his group—not the one led by the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Nepal faction—should be recognised as the “real” Nepal Communist Party.
“Meetings of the Standing Committee and the Central Committee held after that period last year had no meaning,” Oli said in his letter to the constitutional body, which had earlier asked both factions of the ruling party to present evidence to support their claim over the party.
Both the Oli and the Dahal-Nepal camps are after the ruling party’s electoral symbol (the sun) as it is widely recognised by voters and carries the legacy of the Nepal Communist Party and the erstwhile UML party.
As per Section 44 (1) of the Political Parties Act-2017, following a split in a party, the faction that claims to be the legitimate one must substantiate its claim with, among other things, signatures of at least 40 percent of the members of the Central Committee within 30 days.
But as neither faction resorted to the provision to split the party—both camps don’t want to portray themselves as the ones responsible for the split before their supporters — the commission wrote to both the groups to settle the dispute as per clause 25 (4) of the regulation on Political Parties Act-2017 by seeking updated details of the groups concerned.
Oli, in his updated details presented before the commission, claimed that after the Central Committee completed its tenure on May 16, he as the principal office-bearer and first chairperson of the party, had the responsibility of leading the entire party as per Clause 18 (I2) and 18 (I5) of the statute. It was for this reason that he decided to form the new central committee to replace the old one.
The letter said that Oli formed the new central committee on December 21 (in the absence of the Dahal-Nepal faction) in accordance with the method used to do so when the erstwhile CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Centre) entered into a merger. He also claimed that Nepal is still a senior leader of the party and Dahal its co-chair.
In a bid to dilute the strength of the Dahal-Nepal faction in the Central Committee, the Oli camp expanded the central committee to include 1,199 members, adding 556 new members and making room for 197 more to be added in the future. In response, the Dahal-Nepal faction declared Madhav Kumar Nepal as party chair and informed the Election Commission that Oli had been sacked.
Oli told the commission that his new and improved Central Committee has decided to organise the party’s general convention from November 18-22 this year.
But members of the Dahal-Nepal camp say that the arguments presented by Oli are full of lies. They say that according to the interim statute prepared by the Nepal Communist Party after it was formed in May 2018, the chair does not have the right to nominate members to the Central Committee.
Barshaman Pun, a senior leader of Dahal- Nepal faction, criticised Oli for presenting arguments based on lies. “If the Central Committee had lost its authority after May 16, from where did Oli derive the legitimacy for his post?” asked Pun.
Oli also claimed that his party conveyed the central committee meeting by following the due process prescribed in the statute of the party. He held that the meeting was convened by general secretary Bishnu Prasad Poudel in consultation with the chairperson (Oli) by adopting the procedure prescribed in Clause 18 (K1) of the party’s statute.
The prime minister told the Election Commission that as co-chair Dahal did not object to the nomination of new Central Committee members in his letter to the commission on December 23, the commission had no alternative but to accept the legitimacy of the new central committee he formed.
Pun, however, said that Dahal was the executive chairperson of the party and the general secretary can’t convene a meeting of the Central Committee without his nod. “Earlier, the general secretary had convened a meeting of the Standing Committee after securing consent from both chairpersons—Oli and Dahal. It was the Standing Committee that had convened a meeting of the Central Committee organised by the Dahal-Nepal faction,” said Pun.
Oli also claimed that the Dahal-Nepal faction is backed by less than one-third of the central committee (if the new Central Committee he formed is taken into account).