In the UML, discontent is growing as party forms committeesSome who challenged Oli are failing to find positions, others want a system to govern the organisation.
On Friday, CPN-UML Secretary General Shanker Pokhrel announced that senior leader Bhim Rawal was appointed a member in the party’s advisory committee.
Rawal, who lost to KP Sharma Oli in the party chair race in the 10th national congress of the party, was expected to be nominated either in the Standing Committee or the Central Committee.
He, however, had earlier refused to become a Central Committee member.
“Since Rawal is not a Central Committee member, he has not been given any responsibility in the party. A meeting of the Central Committee has decided to appoint him a member of the party advisory committee,” said Pokhrel.
“Whether he should be given more responsibility in the party will be decided by the party chair.”
Until another arrangement is made, Rawal will advise the party as a member of the advisory committee, according to Pokhrel.
Amrit Kumar Bohora chairs the party’s advisory council.
Rawal on Saturday refused to accept the position.
“I have heard that I have been appointed a member of the UML advisory committee. If this is true, handpicking me without even asking me, it is objectionable,” Rawal wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Such a trend is against the spirit of People’s Multiparty Democracy and democratic values.”
Rawal is seen as an opposition in the party for standing up to party chair Oli, who bulldozed his decisions during the party’s recently concluded national congress.
Despite Oli’s call for selecting the party leadership on the basis of consensus, Rawal refused to budge and filed his candidacy against the party chair. Rawal is one of the 10 leaders who once had sided with Madhav Kumar Nepal to challenge Oli. But when Nepal decided to form a new party, Rawal stayed back in the UML.
Insiders say Oli is not likely to accept anyone who has challenged him in the party.
“The party should run on the basis of consensus but Oli wants to run the party his way… that is the problem,” said Tanka Karki, another dissident leader in the UML, who was defeated in the party secretary election.
During a recent Central Committee meeting, some leaders, including Ghanashyam Bhusal, had expressed dissatisfaction at Oli’s working style and some ideological and organisational issues.
Bhusal is also among the 10 leaders to have challenged Oli in the party.
The UML had gone into the convention with a promise to end factionalism and unite the party. Oli wanted everyone to be one herd following him, as his party had faced a split after the Madhav Nepal faction formed the CPN (Unified Sociliast).
“I do not see any reset in the party for another four-five years. We have made the organisational structures exceptionally big. It has not become a party that can confront national and international challenges,” said Karki. “We are at a nascent phase when it comes to the party building process. On ideological and organisational fronts also, we need to do a lot of work.”
Despite some opposition, Oli managed to prove that he ruled the roost in the party, all office bearers were elected as per his wish. Some of those dissidents who had challenged Oli were, however, “adjusted” after they came into Oli’s fold.
In the lead up to the party’s national congress, Subas Nembang had sought the senior vice chair post but he later settled for the party vice chair.
In the new order of precedence set by the party, Nembang now ranks seventh after Ram Bahadur Thapa, a former Maoist leader who joined the UML only a few months ago.
Insiders said Nembang is not happy with the new set-up, especially for being ranked seventh.
Nembang, however, told the Post he did not believe in such protocols and orders.
“I do not give much priority to such issues,” said Nembang in a brief interview. “I am already the deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party. Ours is a democratic party.”
Insiders say Oli’s core team is well aware of the fact that dissatisfaction is growing within the party. According to them, many have voiced their reservations about the way Oli picked Central Committee, Politburo and Standing Committee members.
The UML formed a 99-member Politburo and 45-member Standing Committee last week.
A leader who represents the dissident group said that initial signs are not good and the way Oli is building the party may have consequences, including for the next elections.
Some leaders like Naresh Kharel, Dipak Prakash Bhatt, Surendra Manadhar, Yogendra Shahi and Bhaskar Kafle, among others, have failed to make it to the Central Committee.
Analysts say the UML badly lacks a system and the party has become a group run by Oli.
Khagendra Prasai, assistant professor at Kathmandu University, said that Oli is not running the party as a chair but he is acting more like the head of a clique.
“I do not even consider the 10th national congress as a convention of a communist party. The convention just reestablished Oli. That is why Oli is systematically sidelining his dissidents in the party,” said Prasai.
Discontent in Oli’s party began after he started working unilaterally, ignoring the party system when he was the chair of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) which was formed after a merger between the UML and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).
Over two thirds of the Standing Committee members last year had sought his resignation as prime minister and put Oli in a fix.
But Oli faced opposition from yet another group in the UML—by the Madhav Nepal faction. After Nepal decided to part ways and form his own party, Oli emerged as the numero uno leader in the UML.
Oli supporters, however, say things are fine in the UML.
“We held such a successful convention to democratically elect a new leadership. If some people are not happy, it does not matter,” said Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the party’s Publicity Department. “There are no discords and differences in the party, as reported outside. In the case of Rawal, he was not ready for nomination in either the Standing Committee or the Central Committee. As far as Nembang is concerned, he was not an office bearer in the party earlier. It’s wrong to say that the party is not following the system and leaders are unhappy.”