Koirala faction says Congress trust vote to prime minister was a mistakeLeaders also raise a question as to who leads the faction—Koirala or Thapa.
After failing to get the support of the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) on the elections of Speaker and deputy Speaker, the Shekhar Koirala-Gagan Thapa faction of the Nepali Congress has said the decision of the largest party to give a confidence vote to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was a mistake.
As the Congress is preparing for the meeting of its Central Working Committee scheduled to begin on January 29, the Koirala-Thapa faction has started discussions on the latest political developments.
“We committed a mistake by giving the confidence vote to Prime Minister Dahal,” a leader quoted Koirala as telling the faction’s meeting at Anupam Foodland Gaushala on Sunday. “My proposal presented at the meeting of the Work Execution Committee to remain neutral during the voting was not heeded.”
According to the leader, Koirala had said he was compelled to accept the decision, which was wrong, as party President Sher Bahadur Deuba took the decision through a majority of the committee.
“We had the compulsion to abide by the majority decision,” Koirala told the Sunday meeting. “Actually we should not have given the confidence vote [to the prime minister].”
The Koirala-Thapa faction has started discussions on the changed political course following the formation of the government led by CPN (Maoist Centre) with the backing of the CPN-UML and in view of the upcoming elections of President and the Vice President. They are holding discussions on these issues as part of their preparations to present themselves strongly against the party’s establishment in the upcoming Central Working Committee meeting.
Most of the meeting participants who spoke on Sunday had vehemently criticised the party leadership for failing to save the electoral alliance after the polls.
After the party President and then-prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba refused to allow Dahal to lead the government for the first half of the five-year term, Dahal broke loose from the Congress-led alliance and joined forces with the UML to become the prime minister.
Dahal’s last-hour U-turn deprived the largest party Congress of power not only in the federal government but also in all seven provinces. Now the Congress is trying to break the UML-Maoist union and reach a deal with Maoist leaders in electing the President and the Vice President.
Despite reservations from the Koirala-Thapa faction, Deuba decided to give Dahal the confidence vote on January 10 even though Dahal didn’t need the largest party’s support to win a majority. Deuba’s move was intended to improve relations with the prime minister and sow the seeds of discord between Dahal and UML Chair KP Sharma Oli.
Leaders close to Deuba also claimed that the Congress decision was in response to Dahal’s call for support as the prime minister wanted to weaken Oli’s power as de-facto leader of the ruling alliance.
Congress general secretaries Gagan Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma, other leaders Pradip Paudel, Arjun Narsingh KC, Bal Bahadur KC and Prakash Man Singh had expressed their dissent to Deuba’s proposal of giving Dahal the confidence vote.
“Since both general secretaries and the vice-president had to attend important functions, the meeting [of the faction] has been postponed till Tuesday morning,” said Badri Pande, a Congress leader who attended the meeting on Sunday. “Leaders are presenting their views, which will continue in the next meeting.”
At the meeting, some leaders also raised the crucial question—who leads the rival faction—Koirala or Thapa?
Thapa, with Koirala’s backing, had challenged Deuba as the parliamentary party leader but he did not get all the votes even from his supposed faction members.
The leaders also discussed Deuba’s unilateral decision-making.
“It’s been more than a year since the party decided to give full shape to its departments within six months,” said Jivan Pariyar, deputy general secretary of the Congress. “We want respectable shares at all the bodies of the party including the sister wings and departments.”