Oli faction removes Dev Gurung as chief whip, appoints Bishal BhattaraiThe move appears to be Oli’s bid to pre-empt Dahal-Nepal faction’s plans to call a meeting of the Parliamentary Party.
The Nepal Communist Party faction led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday removed Dev Gurung as chief whip and appointed Bishal Bhattarai, in what appears to be Oli's bid to preempt the opposing faction’s plan to call a meeting of the Parliamentary Party.
Gurung belongs to the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the Nepal Communist Party. Bhattarai belongs to the Oli faction of the Nepal Communist Party.
Subas Nembang confirmed to the Post that Bhattarai was appointed the chief whip after extending thanks to Gurung.
“During the meeting of lawmakers representing Province 1 at Baluwatar today, the prime minister informed that he appointed Bishal Bhattarai the new chief whip of the party,” Nembang told the Post over the phone. “He also thanked Dev Gurung for his services till date.”
The Nepal Communist Party has politically split after Oli’s December 20 House dissolution move.
After the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned Oli’s House dissolution and asked authorities to call a House meeting by March 8, both the factions are in an exercise to get the upper hand.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Party is called either by its leader or deputy leader.
Since Oli is the leader of the Parliamentary Party and Subas Nembang, a close aide to Oli, is the deputy leader, the only way the Dahal-Nepal faction can call a Parliamentary Party meeting is by showing majority and asking the chief whip to do so.
Since the restoration of the House, the Dahal-Nepal faction has been trying to oust Oli, as he has not resigned despite the Supreme Court overturning his December 20 decision.
There are three ways Oli can be removed as prime minister–if he resigns, if a no-confidence motion is passed against him and if he is removed as the leader of the Parliamentary Party.
Even though the Nepal Communist Party has split in effect, legally it is still intact as the same Nepal Communist Party which was registered with the Election Commission in May 2018. The Election Commission continues to recognise Oli and Dahal as chairs, even though the Dahal-Nepal faction had on December 22 made Nepal their chair, alongside Dahal.
The Dahal-Nepal faction now cannot call a meeting of the Parliamentary Party as Gurung, their last resort who they could have used for the purpose, has been removed.
Nembang was made deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party and Dev Gurung the chief whip in May, 2018 after the merger of then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) to form the Nepal Communist Party.
As the chief-whip has an authority to issue a whip to the lawmakers to vote for and against bills, the Oli-faction by removing Gurung has avoided a situation where lawmakers would be asked to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion registered against Oli.