UML closed session delayed as consensus eludes the leadershipDespite increasing the number of office bearers to 19 from 15, party leaders fail to reach an agreement as aspirants have maintained their claims for various posts.
Despite increasing the number of office bearers and Central Committee members, consensus continued to elude the CPN-UML, leading to the delay in the start of the closed session on Saturday, on the second day of the party’s 10th national congress in Chitwan.
Party chair KP Sharma Oli has been holding discussions with leaders close to him since morning in a bid to find consensus on various office bearers’ positions.
Late on Friday night, the party’s last Central Committee meeting decided to increase the number of office bearers to 19 from 15 and the number of Central Committee members to 301 from 225.
The statute convention of the UML held on October 1-3 in Godavari, Lalitpur, had decided to elect 15 office bearers and a 225-member Central Committee.
But with too many aspirants for various posts, the party’s Central Committee meeting decided to make changes.
Now there will be one chair, one senior vice-chair, six vice-chairs, one general secretary, three deputy-general secretaries and seven secretaries.
The meeting increased two vice-chairs and two deputy general secretaries.
Subas Nembang and Ishwor Pokhrel have been staking claim to the single senior vice-chair post. Both are close to Oli.
Similarly, Bishnu Poudel and Shanker Pokhrel are eying party general secretary post. They too are Oli’s favoured leaders, with many within the party seeking Shanker Pokhrel, the former chief minister of Lumbini, seeing him Oli’s successor.
Poudel is currently deputy general secretary of the party. He was elevated to the post of party general secretary after the UML’s merger with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) in May 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Poudel’s elevation to the post of general secretary had surprised many in the party.
He, however, was given the deputy general secretary post again after the NCP was invalidated by the Supreme Court, which led to revival of the UML and the Maoist Centre in the pre-May 2018 stage.
Nembang, who is deputy leader of the UML’s Parliamentary Party, said consensus efforts are on.
For the six positions of the vice-chair, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Surendra Pande, Ghanashyam Bhusal, Kiran Gurung, Radha Gyawali, Raghuji Pant and Lalbabu Pandit among others are in the race.
All five secretaries–Yogesh Bhattarai, Gokarna Bista, Pradeep Gyawali, Prithvi Subba Gurung and Bhim Acharya–have been looking for promotions.
Bhattarai, Bista and Acharya, however, could settle for the post of secretary, as they lack the bargaining power because they were once with Madhav Nepal in a struggle against Oli. They, however, decided to remain within the UML under Oli when Madhav Nepal formed the CPN (Unified Sociliast).
Gurung, the former chief minister of Gandaki province, is also eyeing the party general secretary post along with Bishnu Poudel and Shanker Pokhrel.
More than a dozen leaders including Mahesh Basnet, Gokul Baskota, Khagaraj Adhikari, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Sher Bahadur Tamang, Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, Padma Aryal and Lekhraj Bhatta are vying for the post of secretary.
Rayamajhi and Bhatta, former Maoist leaders, are new entrants in the UML.
For the three posts of deputy general secretary, Pradeep Gyawali, Gokarna Bista and Binda Pandey are some of the contenders.
The UML’s 10th national congress will end on Sunday after electing a new leadership for the next five years.
Oli is almost certain to lead the party even though Bhim Rawal, who is incumbent vice-chair, has announced his candidacy for the post of party chair.
Rawal has maintained that he won’t backtrack on his decision, but there are talks within the party, according to leaders, that he could settle for party vice-chair.
“The closed session was delayed as leaders were holding discussions to find consensus,” said Mani Thapa, a Standing Committee member of the party. “We are also pushing for a consensus to ensure that the new central committee could incorporate leaders coming from different backgrounds.”