Oli may deny dissidents poll tickets as nomination nearsA group of 10 leaders who revolted against Oli’s moves and former Maoists fear exclusion.
CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli still maintains a tough position against a group of 10 leaders who had sided with his arch-rival Madhav Kumar Nepal during an acrimonious dispute in the party more than a year ago, and may deny them election tickets.
The group, however, didn’t support Nepal when he decided to split the UML and formed a new party, CPN (Unified Socialist). They remained in the party despite Oli taking disciplinary action against them.
UML leaders said Oli has shown no sign of flexibility toward the 10 leaders as the dates to finalise the list of candidates draw closer.
The dissident leaders include vice-chairs Asta Laxmi Shakya, Yubaraj Gyawali and Surendra Pande; secretaries Yogesh Bhattarai and Gokarna Bista; Standing Committee members Ghanashyam Bhusal and Raghuji Pant; Central Committee members Bhim Acharya and Bhim Rawal; and chair of the Central Advisory Council Amrit Bohora.
During the infighting, most of them supported an alliance of the opposition parties formed to topple the government led by UML chair Oli. They also signed the petition filed at the Supreme Court demanding dissolution of the Oli government.
Following a mandamus order, Sher Bahadur Deuba replaced Oli in July last year and Madhav Nepal formed a new party. However, the 10 leaders refused to join the new party, nor did they quit the UML.
They had parted ways with Nepal as the latter refused to accept a 10-point proposal prepared by a task force. A team of UML leaders from both Oli and Nepal factions had drafted a 10-point compromise between the two sides to avert a party split.
Some of the ten leaders including Rawal have been vocal critics of Oli for his alleged unilateral decision-making while others have lately softened their positions on the party chair fearing retribution at the time of elections.
But Oli has yet to accept the 10 leaders who were active in toppling his government and has been saying they should apologise for their mistakes.
As per the party’s general practice of preliminary selection, all candidates need to be recommended from the local chapter of their respective constituencies.
Bhim Rawal has been recommended from Achham-1, Vice-chair Yubaraj Gyawali from Dang-3; Surendra Pande from Chitwan-1; Secretary Gokarna Bista from Gulmi-2; Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai from Taplejung; Ghanashyam Bhusal from Rupandehi-3, and Bhim Acharya from Sunsari-2 for the direct election.
The party has already enlisted Raghuji Pant in the proportional representation category of the party while vice-chair Asta Laxmi Shakya and her husband Amrit Kumar Bohara have announced not to contest this election.
Party insiders said Oli has serious reservations against some leaders who were actively involved in splitting the party and that he is not against all of them.
“I think Oli might be against fielding Bhim Rawal and Ghanashyam Bhusal as candidates this election but not against all the 10 leaders,” said Pramod Dahal, who served as press adviser to Oli during his first stint as prime minister.
A UML leader said Oli wouldn’t change his mind about any of the 10 leaders unless they apologise for their role in bringing down his government. Yet another leader, however, said most of the ‘dissident’ leaders including Bhattarai are in no mood to secure a ticket by writing an apology.
“I don’t think the leaders will apologise just to get an election ticket,” said a central committee member, asking not to be named. Most of the UML leaders the Post spoke to refused to be quoted fearing retribution.
Oli, also in his public statements, has clearly hinted that he wouldn’t change his mind unless they apologise.
“Such rumours are found to be spread mainly by two extreme groups: aspirants who are close to the party chair and those who feel sidelined by the party establishment,” Dahal told the Post.
Gagan Bista, secretary of the party’s publicity department, and advisory council chair Bohora claimed that the tenth general convention held in Chitwan had erased the differences. However many other leaders don’t buy the argument.
Also, a group of former Maoist leaders, who opted to support the then prime minister Oli and bolster the UML at the time of infighting, also feel betrayed by Oli.
Now party vice-chair Ram Bahadur Thapa; secretaries Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Lekhraj Bhatta; Standing Committee members Prabhu Sah and Mani Thapa; and Central Committee member Gaurishankar Chaudhary, among others, had sacrificed their ministerial and lawmaker positions to join the UML.
But they too are now dissatisfied with the UML leadership as Oli and his team prepare the lists of candidates for both the first-past-the-post and proportional representation categories for the November 20 elections without consulting with them.
“We are not consulted at all in connection with candidate selection,” Chaudhary told the Post.