Some RSP leaders troubled by Lamichhane’s Sunday outburstThey are exploring ways of damage control, although the matter is yet to be officially discussed at any party forum.
The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP)—the fourth-largest force in the House of Representatives—is facing a conundrum after party president Rabi Lamichhane’s verbal attack on the media on Sunday.
Some party leaders questioned the choice of his words in his over an hour-long tirade.
Lamichhane’s temper tantrums along with his ‘one man show’ posturing in the party has demoralised other RSP leaders.
Even so, many leaders are tightlipped, fearing they might be stripped of their positions if they open up to the public, expressing their dissatisfaction. These events, nonetheless, point at the RSP’s poor internal democracy.
The party decided to recall its ministers from the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government on Sunday.
Party president Lamichhane had, until the last hour, tried to get back the Home Ministry—he met KP Sharma Oli and the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, multiple times.
When Dahal refused to allocate the Home Ministry not only to Lamichhane but also to any other RSP leader, the majority of RSP leaders agreed to quit the Dahal-led government.
“The majority of party leaders came to a conclusion that it is not only Lamichhane, but the party itself that is being denied the Home Ministry, and so we should not remain in the government only to be humiliated,” said Ganesh Karki, RSP’s press coordinator.
Initially, some party leaders had strongly stood against the RSP taking part in power politics. A few had, after joining the government, been exhorting the leadership that they focus on delivery rather than wheeling and dealing for power.
“It would have been better had we not entered this game of power politics. Even after the party joined the government, it should have focused on delivery,” Karki said.
According to him, the party leaders were taken by surprise by the way Lamichhane presented himself at the press meet on Sunday.
Though the press meet was convened immediately after the joint meeting of the RSP’s central committee and the parliamentary party, other leaders were unaware of what he would say in front of the media. “We had no clue he would say what he did during the speech,” said Karki.
This ‘one man show’ of Lamichhane is disenchanting party leaders, and creating troubles, according to party insiders.
A central committee member expressed dissatisfaction at the party’s decision-making process.
“Though the practice of internal democracy is improving a bit and helping to strengthen the party, Lamichhane’s monopoly and ‘one man show’ still dictates the decision-making process,” the RSP leader told the Post on the condition of anonymity.
“Lamichhane’s decisions are universally endorsed. Those who are dissatisfied don’t want to speak up if they see the majority in the leadership’s favour, fearing consequences,” the leader added.
Some party leaders are alarmed by Lamichhane’s latest remarks, and questions are now being pointed at the party president. Multiple party lawmakers and leaders the Post talked to said all is not well in the party after the president’s diatribe on Sunday.
Lamichhane, on Sunday, blamed media houses for his losing the position of deputy prime minister and home minister. He did not acknowledge his own mistakes.
Lamichhane is accused of conflict of interest at a time when a serious legal case is still pending against him for misrepresenting facts related to his citizenship.
In the discussion among party leaders and lawmakers held at the party office on Monday, some party leaders said that although Lamichhane’s remarks might have some truth, he should have been more careful with his language. They raised these questions in the presence of Lamichhane.
“He made a mistake in his choice of words,” a leader present at the discussion told the Post.
On January 27, Lamichhane was forced to resign as deputy prime minister and home minister after the top court declared his Nepali citizenship invalid.
Soon after re-acquiring his Nepali citizenship, Lamichhane had tried to regain the lost Cabinet position.
Lamichhane plucked his party out of the government, even though leaders from other coalition partners were ready to allocate any ministry other than home to a lawmaker from the RSP.
Some leaders in the Rastriya Swatantra Party are exploring ways to control the damage following Lamichhane’s remarks.
“It is not at the institutional level that I am worried. My biggest concern is about the fallout on us as individuals after the party president’s remarks. We should not forget that the media supported us during the elections as we were young and inspiring leaders, but novices in politics,” said a party lawmaker, requesting not to be named.
According to sources, some RSP leaders have already started consultations with people from various sectors as to how to control the damage.
Party joint general secretary Kabindra Burlakoti said the party is yet to officially discuss Lamichhane's Sunday speech.