Oli tightens his grip in UML relieving leaders from Nepal camp of their rolesNepal and other leaders returned to their old party and have vowed to fight, form parallel committees.
The clash between Prime Minister and CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal, the senior party leader, has come to a head.
Days after Nepal, along with other leaders who had sided with Pushpa Kamal Dahal, returned to the UML fold following the Supreme Court decision to revive the UML and Dahal’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), Oli on Friday stripped leaders close to Nepal of responsibilities but the Nepal faction has decided not to accept the decision and counter it by forming parallel party committees.
On Sunday, the Supreme Court, while deciding on a case filed by Rishiram Kattel, had scrapped the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), ordering reinstatement of the UML and the Maoist Centre to their pre-merger state.
The court decision led Nepal and other leaders including Jhala Nath Khanal, Raghuji Pant, Ghanashyam Bhusal and Yogesh Bhattarai to return to the UML fold.
Dahal now leads the Maoist Centre.
Before the court scrapped the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Dahal and Nepal had formed their own faction after Oli’s decision to dissolve the House.
The House was reinstated by the Supreme Court on February 23.
But within days of the revival of CPN-UML, Oli has taken steps to make his position in the party invincible.
Holding two back-to-back meetings of the party’s Central Committee on Friday at Baluwatar, Oli amended the party’s statute to accommodate 23 leaders coming from the CPN (Maoist Centre).
Though the leaders attending the meeting said they decided to form a general convention organising committee and scrapped the provision of office-bearers except that of the general secretary, the party spokesperson said they were just a proposal to present at the Central Committee meeting scheduled for March 20.
With the new development, the conflict within the revived CPN-UML is expected to deteriorate.
An emergency meeting of the available Standing Committee members close to Madhav Kumar Nepal held at Aryal Hotel in the evening decided to scrap all the decisions made by the Oli group.
“There is no provision of adding members to the party committees as the party has already fulfilled the 10 percent allowed by the statute,” said Bhim Rawal, vice-chairman of the party following the meeting. “Every decision related to removing obstacles can only be taken through the full majority of the Central Committee.”
Accusing Oli of refusing to reorganise the party and instead trying to dissolve it by taking unilateral decisions, the Nepal faction has decided to reorganise the CPN-UML which means they will form parallel committees throughout the country.
“On Wednesday we will hold a national gathering and take necessary decisions to reorganise the party,” said Beduram Bhusal, a Standing Committee member of the UML. “We were expecting Oli would reorganise but he took decisions unilaterally so we decided to reorganise the UML.”
The ninth general convention of the UML held in 2014 had elected five vice-chairs, a general secretary, two deputy general secretaries and five secretaries.
Bidya Devi Bhandari, the incumbent President, Bamdev Gautam, Yubaraj Gyawali, Bhim Rawal, Asta Laxmi Shakya were vice-chairs, Ishwar Pokhrel was general secretary, Ghanashyam Bhusal and Bishnu Poudel were deputy general secretaries and Yogesh Bhattarai, Pradeep Gyawali, Bhim Acharya, Prithvi Subba Gurung and Gokarna Bista were secretaries.
Gautam so far had chosen not to side with anyone—neither Oli nor Nepal. But following Oli’s move he has commented that now the chances of joining hands with Oli have ended, Gautam’s press adviser Bishwamani Subedi quoted the leader as saying.
Yubaraj Gyawali, Rawal, Shakya, Bhusal, Bhattarai, Acharya and Bista are close to Nepal. No members of the Nepal-led faction were informed about Friday’s meetings.
After the UML and the Maoist Centre merged in May 2018, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) decided not to give continuity to the officer-bearers.
Bishnu Poudel, however, was elevated to the post of general secretary of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Supporters of Oli, however, insist that the decision to amend the party statute is legal as it was a special central committee meeting.
“The 10th Central Committee meeting on Friday decided to amend the party statute,” said Khagaraj Adhikari, a Central Committee member. “The 11th meeting was held a while after the first meeting. Leaders from the Madhav Nepal group did not attend it as they were holding their own meetings.”
According to other leaders attending the meeting, the Oli-led group’s meeting also decided to change the existing responsibilities of leaders including those in charge of provincial committees.
Leaders close to Nepal including Bhim Acharya, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Yubaraj Gyawali and Bhim Rawal have been stripped of their responsibilities. The meeting has appointed Bishnu Poudel as chief of the party’s organisational department and Rajan Bhattarai as the head of the international department.
Before the CPN-UML and Maoist Centre’s merger, Nepal used to lead the international department of the UML.
Vice-chair of the party Yubaraj Gyawali said the decision taken by Oli’s faction was wrong in all aspects—political or legal. “We don’t accept any of the decisions,” said Gyawali. “Now we will have to think whether to join hands with Oli or not.”
He said Oli’s mission has not been completed after the court reinstated the House and therefore he has more steps to take and this could be a part of them.
But after widespread criticism of the reports on the decisions taken by the Oli faction, leaders from the Oli faction have said the media’s coverage was not accurate.
Issuing a statement, spokesperson Pradeep Gyawali said the meeting has amended the statute to incorporate the leaders coming from the CPN (Maoist Centre) but has not taken other decisions. He dismissed the media reports as speculations.
Following the meeting of the Nepal-led faction, senior leader Khanal said they will take necessary decisions in response.
“I have heard very strange things that a meeting of our party took decisions,” said Khanal. “We will take necessary decisions after discussion with our leaders.”
On Friday afternoon, Maoist Centre Chairman Dahal was quick to indicate how things will now turn out.
“UML cannot remain one in its existing form,” Dahal said while addressing party cadres in Rupandehi.
According to Dahal, either Oli will be ousted after Nepal captures the party or the Nepal faction will have to revolt within the party.
“Then we will be together and can become a larger force,” said Dahal, about the prospect of his party merging with the Nepal faction eventually.