CPN-UML dissident leaders who chose to side with KP Sharma Oli are in a fix nowThey could develop as a small faction in the long run if they continue to remain with the party, political analysts say.
The CPN-UML is currently preparing for its statute convention, scheduled for next month, amid a brewing internal conflict as the leaders critical of the party chair, KP Sharma Oli, have upped the ante, demanding that July’s 10-point agreement be fully implemented.
During the ongoing central committee meeting on Friday, party’s vice-chair Bhim Rawal dared the party to annul the 10-point agreement of July 11 that outlined the basis for party unity.
However, the three-day long meeting concluded on Sunday by endorsing all three proposals—Chairman Oli’s political proposal, General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel’s organisational and Deputy General Secretary Bishnu Poudel’s statute amendment proposal—with minor changes. But the demands of the leaders including Rawal for a special decision on implementation of the 10-point agreement were ignored.
Rawal left the meeting while Chairman Oli was responding to the questions raised on his political document.
Ghanashyam Bhusal presented a three-point dissent on Chairman Oli’s political document saying that the document was not clear on People’s Multi-party Democracy and Oli’s two attempts to dissolve the House of Representatives. He also said the party chair was not clear on socialism.
In a bid to save the party from splitting, the UML had earlier this year formed a task force comprising 10 leaders—five each from the Oli and Madhav Nepal factions, which forged a 10-point agreement. But Nepal refused to accept the agreement.
After Nepal’s refusal, all five members of the Rawal-led team including Deputy General Secretary Bhusal, Secretary Gokarna Bista, Raghuji Pant and Surendra Pandey and Secretary Bhim Acharya, all of whom often joined the task force in discussions, decided to remain with Oli taking ownership of the agreement. The major point of agreement was to continue the party’s structures from the point before the UML and the Maoist Centre decided to merge in May 2018.
Besides the six leaders—Vice-chairpersons Ashta Laxmi Shakya and Yubaraj Gyawali, Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai and Standing Committee member Amrit Bohora, who were considered close to Madhav Nepal, chose to remain in the mother party along with a significant chunk of leaders and cadres, who otherwise would have been with the Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist), after Oli agreed to implement the deal.
“We know everything about Oli and his attitude but we decided to fight against his attitude by remaining in the UML, and denounced the party split,” said one of the 10 Standing Committee members. “We will see how Oli and his followers treat us.”
Oli’s political document and the organisational report presented by General Secretary Pokhrel both clearly state that factional politics led to the split in the Nepal Communist Party and subsequently in the UML, and stress the need for a mechanism to control such activities.
At Friday's central committee meeting, Rawal demanded discussions on the internal party circular No 12 issued on August 29 which states that the party structures will be activated as they existed on May 17, 2018. The 10-point agreement was endorsed by the Standing Committee meeting of August 24 and Central Committee meeting of August 26. Central members Jhapat Rawal and Bhanubhakta Joshi also supported Bhim Rawal’s statement and demanded that the agreement was not implemented in the Sudur Paschim Province.
The problem arose in Sudur Paschim after Oli appointed former Maoist leader Lekhraj Bhatta in charge of the UML provincial committee. Bhim Rawal’s return to the party compounded the problem, especially after Oli refused to implement the agreement.
“As of now, I don’t think Oli will consider our demand,” said Bhanubhakta Joshi, a central committee member. “We will have to think of revolt in the party if the party’s decisions are not implemented.”
According to Joshi, those who have guts will revolt and others will have to surrender to Oli. “It seems that Oli is of the view that we don’t have any option and we will accept whatever decisions he imposes.”
The problem of implementing the 10-point agreement is not limited to Sudur Paschim only, many districts of other provinces like Sunsari and Taplejung of Province 1 also have problems.
Given these incidents, the conflict within the party is expected to brew which could even lead to further revolt if Chairman Oli ignored their concerns.
While leaders coming from the Maoist Centre including Prabhu Sah, Mani Thapa, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Lekhraj Bhatta have been demanding that the upcoming statute convention should be termed unity general convention and their leaders and cadres must be given appropriate positions.
Political analysts say the leaders who were with Madhav Nepal earlier and formed parallel organisations throughout the nation and later chose to remain with the UML could continue raising their grumblings but that would be fruitless as no one would listen to them. They could develop as a small faction in the long run if they continue to remain with the party.
Political analyst Hari Roka, however, said they even failed to stand as a loose faction because they are not united as Oli has treated them individually.
“Oli had promised to elevate Bhim Rawal to acting chair of the party but later deprived him of even Sudur Paschim in-charge position,” Roka said. “This is how Oli works. Everyone knows how he sidelined Bamdev. I think these leaders will meet a similar fate as Bamdev.”
He said Oli and Pokhrel, through their documents, have already told them that the UML dissidents were the culprits who brought the UML to this pathetic stage and therefore they should be ashamed.
But another politician turned writer Narayan Dhakal, however, said the conflict within the UML between those deserting Nepal and Oli will continue and they would gradually be cornered as they have chosen the wrong path.
“People like Ghanashyam Bhusal have no future in the UML, which is ruled by an undemocratic person like Oli,” said Dhakal, who was with the UML earlier. “By the next General Convention of the party they would be in a very difficult situation.”
But if they decide to desert the UML and join the CPN (Unified Socialist), that could weaken the UML and bolster the CPN (Unified Socialist).
But Roka claimed that the conflict within the UML may not last long because the 10 top leaders who were with Nepal earlier have lost their ground to fight Oli and have no other option than to surrender.
“Even if they wished to desert the UML now, they will have no space in Nepal’s party as all the positions are already occupied and they will also lose their lawmaker positions,” said Hari Roka, a political analyst. “So, they have lost their political significance.”