UML task force reaches 10-point deal for party unityThe agreement, subject to approval by chair Oli and senior leader Nepal, follows a more than 12-hour-long meeting, a day ahead of expected court verdict on House dissolution.
Tika R Pradhan
The 10-member task force of the CPN-UML on Sunday night reached a 10-point deal to end the ongoing intra-party feud and find a win-win situation for the warring factions led by party chair KP Sharma Oli and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.
The task force, which has five members each from both factions, held marathon meetings for more than 12 hours on Sunday before it announced the deal at around 10pm on Sunday, just a day before the Supreme Court’s likely verdict on the House of Representatives dissolution.
“This is the final agreement signed by all the task force members and owned by both top leaders [Oli and Nepal],” Surendra Pandey, one of the members of the task force, told the Post after the meeting. “Oli and Nepal will meet at around 11am tomorrow [Monday] and discuss ways to move ahead, besides finalising the agenda for the Standing Committee meeting scheduled for 5pm.”
The task force was revived last Monday, hours after Oli’s deadline to the Madhav Nepal faction to return to the party. Since then, the 10 members had continuously been holding meetings so as to keep the party unity intact.
Oli restarted his bid to make rapprochement with Nepal afresh as the Supreme Court scheduled its verdict on House dissolution for July 12. As many as 23 lawmakers of the dissolved House from the Nepal faction have signed a petition filed by the opposition alliance demanding restoration of the House and appointment of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister.
Insiders told the Post last week that Oli was in a bid to block Deuba’s appointment as prime minister and for that he needed the support of the Nepal faction.
One of the points of Sunday’s agreement says, “On the House dissolution case that is being examined by the Supreme Court, we will move ahead by following institutional decisions and the spirit of party unity.”
If the Nepal faction agrees to return to the UML fold, abandoning the opposition alliance, Oli is likely to emerge even stronger regardless of what order the court passes.
Even if the court orders Deuba’s appointment as prime minister, which is less likely, without Nepal faction’s support, he will fail the vote of confidence.
But if the court orders Oli to take a vote of confidence as he had skipped Article 76 (4), the Nepal faction’s support could make him sail through.
Of the 23 lawmakers of the dissolved House from the dissident faction, just Nepal and a few more have so far expressed reservations about patching up with Oli. Most of the leaders in the Nepal faction have been keen on keeping the party unity intact.
The task force on Sunday also tried to address the Nepal faction’s long-standing demand that the party should return to the stage before May 16, 2018.
The UML and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) had merged on May 17, 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). However, it was invalidated by the Supreme Court on March 7, leading to the revival of the UML and the Maoist Centre.
The Nepal faction wanted the restoration of the Central Committee that existed before the UML’s merger with the Maoist Centre.
The task force has agreed to move ahead with the structures—party committees, bodies and affiliated organisations—that existed before May 16, 2018. It has also agreed to carry forward the decision of May 17, 2018 to nominate leaders in the Central Committee as per the political line and party statute endorsed by the UML’s ninth national convention.
The two warring factions of the UML have agreed that all the activities of both factions carried out going beyond the legality of the party and against party unity are automatically annulled.
According to the agreement, the members of the Standing Committee and the Central Committee of then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) that remained in UML following the March 7 invalidation of the merger of the two parties would also be included in the UML in the same positions as in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
This would mean that Maoist Centre leaders that defected to the UML would be welcomed to the party.
Though leaders have called Sunday night’s 10-point agreement a major breakthrough, it is still subject to approval by Oli, and particularly Nepal who faces a huge moral question before him.
Nepal lately has made multiple public statements that his fight was to establish system and procedure and that he would stick to his “politics of values”. If he acquiesces and agrees to join hands with Oli, it would mean withdrawing support to the opposition alliance.
With a majority of leaders in his faction making a push for party unity, the situation will not be easy for Nepal if he objects to the deal.
One of Nepal’s close aides, Raghuji Pant, who is also a member of the task force, has not signed Sunday’s agreement.
Pant told the Post that he had to leave the meeting because he was not feeling well. But insiders say he had some reservations about the 10-point deal.
Before the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was invalidated by the court, Nepal had aligned with Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who then co-chaired the party, to unseat Oli. Bitterness between Oli and Nepal had started to grow at that time, but they started treating each other as arch enemies after the first House dissolution of December 20.
The March 7 decision to revive the UML and the Maoist Centre, however, broke the alliance between Nepal and Dahal. Though Nepal was technically part of the UML, hostility between him and Oli continued.
The second House dissolution once again brought Nepal closer to the opposition alliance formed by the Nepali Congress and the Maoist Centre. But Oli’s maneuverings to corner him seem to have worked, as the task force has taken the unity process forward.
Some members of the Nepal faction, however, are suspicious of the deal.
Dilu Panta, a Central Committee member close to the Nepal faction, said the late night deal just ahead of the court verdict has created more confusion.
“It could further drive a wedge between the two factions,” Panta told the Post. “It seems everyone is trying to alienate Nepal.”