Crisis brewing in Unified Socialist as 10 of its lawmakers up the anteParty chair Nepal in tight spot as those said to be his close aides pressure him over decision on recalling ministers.
A crisis is brewing in the CPN (Unified Socialist).
Four of its ministers in the Sher Bahadur Deuba Cabinet, who have defied the party decision to recall them, on Friday got the backing of six lawmakers in piling pressure on the leadership, particularly party chair Madhav Kumar Nepal.
The 10 lawmakers submitted a memorandum demanding a Parliamentary Party meeting at the earliest. They have also expressed their displeasure at the party Standing Committee’s decision earlier this month to recall the four ministers.
The party on June 5 decided to recall Birodh Khatiwada, Ram Kumari Jhakri, Prem Ale and Krishna Kumar Shrestha and send a new set of leaders—Jeevan Ram Shrestha, Metmani Chaudhary, Sher Bahadur Kunwar, promote state minister Bhawani Khapung as full minister for health and population, and Hira Chandra KC as minister of state for health.
“We have registered a memorandum at the party headquarters to discuss the party’s decision to recall the ministers,” Health Minister Birodh Khatiwada told the Post.
Along with Khatiwada, Urban Development Minister Ram Kumari Jhakri, Labour Minister Krishna Kumar Shrestha and Tourism Minister Prem Ale as well as lawmakers Krishnalal Maharjan, Nirudevi Jairu, Dhan Bahadur Budha, Pushpa Kumari Karna Kayastha, Bina Devi Budhathoki and Gopal Bahadur Bam have signed the memorandum.
Submitting the letter to party chair Nepal, the lawmakers said that the decision to change ministers at a time when the discussions on the budget were ongoing was uncalled for.
Demanding a meeting of the Parliamentary Party, the lawmakers have also put forth some conditions for changing the ministers, including adherence to the principle of inclusivity.
Born in August last year, the Unified Socialist has 24 lawmakers in the House. With 10 lawmakers, or 40 percent, defying the party diktat, Madhav Nepal is clearly under pressure and must be experiencing déjà vu.
It was under the leadership of Nepal, some had launched a campaign against CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli. They also had defied party orders.
However, 10 of key leaders including Ghanashyam Bhusal, Bhim Rawal and Yogesh Bhattarai fighting Oli decided to remain in the UML, and others sided with Nepal to form the Unified Socialist.
While Jhakri firmly stood by Nepal, Ale and Shrestha played an instrumental role in helping him constitute the party.
Insiders say Nepal is on the backfoot. Despite the Standing Committee taking the decision, he cannot force Jhakri, Ale and Shrestha to comply with it. Any pressure, he fears, could prompt them to quit the party, leaving him marooned. In the worst case scenario, he could even see an end to his political career. Otherwise, also, his nine-month-old party will be in disarray if the 10 lawmakers decide to quit.
Meanwhile, Jhala Nath Khanal, a senior leader of the party, too has been saying that it’s up to the leadership [Nepal] to implement the decision taken by the party. Khanal and Nepal too appear to have drifted apart lately, with the former making a strong push for a “left alliance” on which the latter is not very keen.
“As the party’s Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, it will come up with a concrete decision regarding the ongoing mess of change in ministers,” Khanal told the Post. “I don’t think there will be any problem within the party and the party will remain intact.”
The party has called its Central Committee meeting for Saturday and Sunday, and Central Council meeting for Monday and Tuesday in which 1,700 representatives will participate.
At Friday’s politburo meeting, Nepal told leaders that the activities of the ministers would be an issue of discipline violation and that the party’s decision will be implemented soon.
Nepal, according to politburo members, told the ministers that they would get a chance to become ministers after the polls and therefore they need not worry much.
Many leaders speaking on Friday criticised the ministers saying their activities violated party discipline.
However, the issue of the ministers’ eight-point memorandum was not on the agenda for the discussion and during the meeting, 40 politburo members aired their views on the organisational report presented by the party chairman.
On Friday, Nepal also blamed CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal for blocking the oath of new ministers recommended by the CPN (Unified Socialist).
“Dahal is also responsible for the delay in implementing our decision because he fears a reshuffle in the Cabinet will create pressure on his party,” politburo member Metmani Chaudhary quoted Nepal as saying at Friday’s politburo meeting. “At first, reshuffle was delayed due to the budget and now due to the possible problem in the coalition.”
Gangalal Tuladhar, deputy general secretary of the party, said although the party leaders have been blaming leaders of the coalition partner parties and the prime minister for delaying the implementation of the party’s decision, if the letter floated in the media is the one handed over to the party chair, it is clear that it’s our own ministers who are piling pressure on the leadership.
He said the leaders did not blame the ministers but pointed fingers at the prime minister for delaying the implementation of the party's decisions.
“But today’s activities have proved that the ministers were creating pressure on the prime minister and Maoist Centre chair Dahal, and now they are trying to keep the party under pressure,” he said.
“This is unfortunate,” Tuladhar told the Post.