Is Nepal Communist Party heading towards split? 

Nepal Communist Party
Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

As K P Sharma Oli, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) chair and prime minister, in a bid to achieve a majority in the party Central Committee announced a 1,199-member general convention organizing committee a question looms over Nepal – is the Nepal Communist Party is heading towards a split?

At a meeting of the Central Committee with the members close to him in Baluwatar, Oli has proposed forming a 1,199-member Central Committee, which will work as a general convention organizing committee, said media reports from Nepal.

At present, the ruling party has 435 members in the 446-member Central Committee. Oli has announced to add 556-members in the existing Central Committee with a view to adding 197 members later so as to form a 1,199-member General Convention Organizing Committee.

The meeting removed Naryan Kaji Shrestha as the party spokesperson, and appointed Pradeep Gyawali in his place.

Gyawali, a Standing Committee member, is foreign minister in the Oli Cabinet.

Shrestha also said the meeting has made a second amendment to the party’s statute, including all the changes made by the Tuesday’s meeting and the new changes were endorsed immediately.

Some new Central Committee members took the oath during the meeting on Tuesday.

In the meeting, Oli also proposed holding the party’s general convention on November 18-23 in Kathmandu next year.

Since elections have been declared for April 30 and May 10, it is not possible to hold the general convention before November next year, according to a party member.

NCP Standing Committee decides to propose disciplinary action against Oli

An earlier report said:

A Standing Committee (SC) meeting of the NCP has decided to recommend disciplinary action against party chair and PM KP Sharma Oli.

“A proposal to this effect will be taken to the meeting of the Central Committee scheduled for Tuesday,” Pampha Bhusal, a SC member.

The decision of the SC meeting, which was skipped by Oli and some other members loyal to him, took place in Baluawatar on Sunday evening, hours after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives on the recommendation of the Oli Cabinet.

The SC has not made it clear what kind of action it is proposing against Oli.

Oli’s move of dissolving House comes on the heels of a deepening crisis in his NCP where he has slid into the minority with the opponent faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal demanding his resignation for failing on the governance front and to abide by party decisions.

In the 44-member SC, the Dahal-Nepal faction controls the majority.

Oli was elected prime minister in February 2018 after the alliance of his CPN-UML and Dahal’s CPN (Maoist Centre) was handed a majority in the 2017 elections. The two parties had merged in May 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party.

But rising tensions in the party had threatened Oli’s chair.

In November 1994, then prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress had dissolved the House. After that, then CPN-UML’s Manmohan Adhikari had formed a minority government. But Adhikari too had attempted to dissolve the House, only to be challenged at the Supreme Court which restored the Parliament.

Sunday’s SC also condemned Oli’s move of dissolving the house, saying it is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Oli rejects SC decision of disciplinary action against him

KP Sharma Oli has rejected the decision of the Standing Committee held on Sunday in his absence saying that the decision taken by the second chair of the party was against the party statute.

“Since I am the first chair of the party, any meeting called by the other chair will not be legitimate,” lawmaker of the dissolved House Krishna Rai quoted Oli as saying. “Dahal was given the chair only to manage him.”

Leaders present in the meeting said Oli said he was forced to take the decision after the leaders were preparing to bring no confidence motion against him and impeachment against the President.

Oli had tried to convince the lawmakers that it was borne out of compulsion, as the leaders did not allow him to move after their demands grew continuously.

In the meeting, Oli has announced that he would begin formal activities of the party after a few days and has directed all the lawmakers not to join any meetings or gatherings except the one called by him and the general secretary.

Seven ministers, all from the Dahal-Nepal faction in ruling party, resign

Another report said:

Seven ministers of the KP Sharma Oli Cabinet have resigned.

All the ministers, who belong to the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Nepal faction in the ruling NCP, tendered their resignation late on Sunday afternoon, hours after President Bidya Devi Bhandari endorsed the Oli Cabinet recommendation for the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

“We have already made it clear that we had opposed the prime minister’s move of dissolving the House of Representatives,” the ministers said in a joint statement. “We hereby resign from our posts to express our disagreement to the prime minister’s unconstitutional and undemocratic move which is against the people’s mandate and political principles and stability.”

Those who resigned on Sunday are Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokhrel; Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun; Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Ghanashyam Bhusal; Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Kumar Bhattarai; Minister for Forest and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet; Minister for Labor and Employment Rameshwor Raya Yadav and Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Bina Magar.

In a drastic step, Oli on Sunday decided to dissolve the House amid deepening crisis in his Nepal Communist Party where he has fallen into minority after the faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal put a pressure on him either to abide by party decisions or step down.

Oli’s address to the nation didn’t validate dissolution of House, observers say

A report said on December 22, 2020:

A day after recommending that the House of Representatives be dissolved, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli defended his action before the public through a televised address on Monday.

While the “strongest prime minister ever in Nepal’s modern history” accused his own party members of cornering his government and not allowing it to function, observers, and even leaders of the ruling party, quashed his claims.

“I don’t see the significance of his defense as he has damaged things as much as he could,” said party SC member Beduram Bhusal.

In his over 20-minute-long address, a fatigued-looking Oli recounted his achievements as prime minister in the last three years. He held his party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, whom he did not name in this speech, responsible for creating a mess. “When the government was formed after setting aside various obstacles, it had started working as per the expectations of the people,” said Oli. “After that, some leaders relentlessly tried to send a message of instability. Even before the government completed its first year, some leaders went abroad to spread the message of instability while others, when the prime minister was out of the country, sought help from lifeguards saying that the country was drowning.”

During his visit to India in September 2018, Dahal in his interviews to Indian media outlets had claimed that he and Oli were bound by a gentlemen’s agreement under which the two leaders would take turns to become prime minister. Oli had later denied that such a pact even existed.

Oli had made similar remarks during a gathering of parliamentarians at Baluwatar on Monday. Parliament was not dissolved out of the blue, Oli had told lawmakers aligned to his camp. But the dissolution came as some party leaders always tried to create obstacles in front of his government ever since its formation.

According to lawmakers present during the meeting, Oli said that the elected government did not have a choice but to seek a fresh mandate from the people.

But Oli’s critics say the prime minister is not owning up to his own failure and blaming others for it. “Oli had enough time to deliver by forming a strong team. But he did not do that. Now he is blaming others for his failure; no one believes him,” said Bhusal, the SC member, adding that a section of the ruling party and opposition parties will stand together to thwart Oli’s attempt to dissolve the House.

Oli repeatedly used the word “siege” during his address and said that attempts were made to file a no-confidence motion against his government and summon the House session without the prior knowledge of the prime minister, party chair and the party parliamentary leader.

“I could not see a single word of self-confession in his address,” said noted political analyst Shyam Shrestha. “He lied to the nation.”

Oli claimed that his government had done enough work in favor of the people, stood ground for nationalism, initiated boundary talks with India and implementation of the trade and transit agreement with China was gathering momentum.

Oli credited himself for publishing Nepal’s new map and recalled that he faced the situation head on even when his government was toppled in 2016 after the economic blockade. Drawing parallels to the events that led to his dismissal that year, Oli said, “The characters are the same, the situation is the same, but the context is different.”

“Does it not show that some of our leaders are pushing the country towards perpetual instability?”

But Shrestha refuted Oli’s statement. “Oli is the main source of instability in the country today and is responsible for the situation the country finds itself in. Oli had a great chance to lead and govern the country but he failed,” added Shrestha.

During his Monday’s address, Oli, after defending his call to dissolve the House, urged the youth and party leaders to participate in the electoral process. He also urged the party leaders to forget the bitterness of the past to strengthen the party’s unity.

The prime minister’s move is deeply flawed for various other reasons as well, said Nepali Congress lawmaker and legal expert Radheshyam Adhikari.

“First, Oli announced elections in the midst of a pandemic. Second, is it possible to conduct elections at a time when major parties are preparing for protests?”

Adhikari, who doubts the elections will take place on time, said that Oli should have stepped down after dissolving the House of Representatives, but he did not do so. “So it seems that he dissolved the House just to escape the no-confidence motion. Then an important legal question arises: What is the status of the Oli government? Is he a caretaker prime minister now?”

All prime ministers who dissolved the House in the past had tendered their resignation after announcing fresh elections, but Oli has not done so, said Adhikari. “I doubt he intends to hold elections.”

Oli’s recommendation to dissolve the lower House and announce dates (April 30 and May 10) for fresh elections was swiftly approved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari, whose role as the “patron of the constitution” is now being questioned.

Some ruling party leaders are also worried by the statement issued by the president’s office on Sunday justifying the dissolution of the House. Besides quoting articles 76 and 85, Bhandari presented international parliamentary practices as justification for her action.

“Oli’s move is unconstitutional no doubt, but the way the president cited international practices may have serious implications,” said former finance minister and party SC member Surendra Pandey.

“If we start copying international practices, it may not be appropriate for the country,” said Pandey. “Nepal’s context, background, and political circumstances are different from that of other countries. References to international practices should be taken seriously,” added Pandey.

Lawmakers of Dahal-Nepal faction seek ways to revive Parliament

The meeting of lawmakers of the ruling NCP’s faction led by party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal held Monday has decided to demand the revival of the parliament which the other chair KP Sharma Oli has dissolved on Sunday.

Since the move of the prime minister and the President was unconstitutional the meeting has decided to reject and condemn it.

“Our proposal of no-confidence motion registered at the parliament secretariat on Sunday has presented chairman Dahal as the leader of the parliamentary party,” said Dev Gurung, Chief Whip of the dissolved parliament. “All other necessary decisions will be taken from the party’s central committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday.”

Gurung has said the move of the government was just a political stunt and therefore the parliament cannot be dissolved constitutionally.

“There could be other ways to revive besides the Supreme Court’s decision,” Gurung said. “If there is consensus among all political parties represented in Parliament it can be resumed like in 2006.”

During the meeting leaders appealed to all the political parties and the civil society to fight against the unconstitutional move.

“All the experts have said there is no provision in the constitution to dissolve the House and therefore the parliament is still alive,” said Surendra Pandey, lawmaker and Standing Committee member. “We have managed such a provision in the new constitution citing the previous instances of vacuum.”

The meeting has decided to knock the door of the Supreme Court to reinstate the parliament besides urging the Speaker to discuss ways to resume the new session.

Both the factions of the ruling party led by Oli and Dahal have called the meeting of the central committee separately. Oli has called the meeting at 9 am Tuesday at Baluwatar while Dahal-Nepal faction has called a meeting at a venue for wedding and other banquets in Babarmahal at 1 pm.

Oli’s move of dissolving the House has brought Nepal Communist Party to a moment of truth

Tika R Pradhan, a senior political correspondent for The Kathmandu Post writes on December 22, 2020:

“In effect, the Nepal Communist Party has split now. A formal announcement is not if but when.

“The two factions led by chairs KP Sharma Oli, also the prime minister, and Pushpa Kamal Dahal are now busy making strategies to wrest control of the party.”

Tika R Pradhan writes:

“Oli has tried to justify his action of dissolving the House of Representatives, saying the opponent faction not only created hindrance in his functioning but also made attempts to unseat him. The Dahal faction has said Oli took an unconstitutional move to dissolve the House.

“With the government’s House dissolution move already with the Supreme Court, both factions are now in a bid to conserve energy for the showdown. Nonetheless, none wants to be seen as the cause for the split.

“‘The prime minister said at today’s meeting that he had to take the drastic step of dissolving the House because some party leaders were preparing to move a no-confidence motion against him,’ Nirudevi Pal, a lawmaker close to Oli, told reporters after the Oli faction’s meeting at Baluwatar on Monday morning. ‘They were also in a bid to impeach the President.’”

The commentary said:

“Given the rapid developments over the past few days which culminated in the House dissolution on Sunday, the Dahal faction, which has some former senior CPN-UML leaders like Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, is left with limited options.

“They can fight a legal battle in the court to reinstate the House, but if the ultimate arbiter of the constitution upholds the government’s decision, they will have no other option than to participate in polls, set for April 30 and May 10 – if they happen.

“‘If the House is not restored, we will have no alternative than to prepare for the polls,’ said Surendra Pandey, a Standing Committee member who is with the Dahal-Nepal faction. ‘It is not that anyone is afraid to go to the polls for a fresh mandate… the question is whether snap polls are necessary. The question is also whether the government decision to dissolve the House is constitutional.’

“Though Dahal on Monday morning said in a statement that one person’s undemocratic move will not affect the party unity, it has become apparent that there is no way the two factions can remain under the same roof.

“Leaders from the Dahal faction later on Monday joined a meeting of the Nepali Congress and Janata Samajbadi Party to discuss Oli’s move of House dissolution.

“‘We three parties are against the unconstitutional and undemocratic moves by prime minister Oli and constant attacks on the constitution,’ Narayan Kaji Shrestha, spokesperson for the Nepal Communist Party who is with the Dahal faction, told reporters after the meeting held at Congress headquarters in Sanepa. ‘After taking the mandate from central committees of all three parties, we will take necessary decisions.’

“Shrestha did not elaborate.

“According to a press statement issued by Nepali Congress following the meeting, all three parties have the same view on the prime minister’s act of House dissolution, that it is unconstitutional and undemocratic and all three parties have agreed to protest the move.

“‘All three parties have agreed to discuss and decide from their respective central committee meetings to devise further programmes,’ reads the second decision of the statement on the all party meeting.

“A meeting of the members of the central executive committee of Janata Samajbadi Party held on Monday decided to hold demonstrations against Oli’s unconstitutional and undemocratic move on Wednesday at all the district headquarters and has called its Central Working Committee meeting on Tuesday to devise further strategy.

“Meanwhile, the Dahal faction on Monday afternoon notified the Election Commission of Sunday’s Standing Committee decision about initiating action against Oli. The party has concluded that Oli’s move was unconstitutional, undemocratic, autocratic, regressive and against the people’s mandate.

“The Standing Committee has decided to propose the Central Committee meeting for a disciplinary action against the party chairman Oli.

“‘It became imperative for us to inform the Election Commission about the party’s Standing Committee decision meeting,’ said Lilamani Pokhrel, a Standing Committee member. ‘Of the 44 Standing Committee members, 29 agree that Oli deserved a disciplinary action.’

“Insiders say no matter how much leaders talk about saving unity, everyone, in essence, knows that things are beyond repair. It will take some time before the court decides on Oli’s move. But in either case – if it reinstates or endorses the House dissolution – the party is not going to remain intact, according to them.

“In an interview with Kantipur, Pradip Gyawali, a Standing Committee member and foreign minister in the Oli Cabinet, said that the party had already split on December 16 when the majority of the lawmakers went to the President’s office with a petition to call a special session of Parliament.”

It added:

“When Oli’s CPN-UML and Dahal’s Maoist Centre had announced their merger in May 2018, they had agreed upon having shares in party committees at 60:40 ratio. Accordingly, the 441-member Central Committee had 241 leaders from then UML and 200 leaders from the Maoist Centre. The 45-member Standing Committee too had similar composition with 25 members from the UML and 18 from the Maoist Centre.

“But lately the equation has changed.

“Some Maoist leaders like Ram Bahadur Thapa, Haribol Gajurel, Mani Thapa, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi have yet to make it clear which side they are on. Party Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam who has been with the Dahal faction of late also has decided to sit on the fence. While a Standing Committee member close to Oli, Raghubir Mahaseth, attended the meeting of the Dahal-Nepal faction, former Maoist leader and minister Lekhraj Bhatta joined the meeting of lawmakers called by Oli.

“According to insiders, Tuesday’s meetings of the both factions will be decisive, which will most likely seal the fate of the Nepal Communist Party.

“Just as Oli put an end to the nearly two-thirds majority government with a stroke of the pen, he also killed what leaders had called back in May 2018 ‘a communist movement,’ say leaders from both the factions.”



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