Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) suffered a vertical split on December 23, 2020, with the rival factions of the party led by the two chairmen claiming their faction to be the authentic NCP in separate central committee meetings held in Kathmandu, the capital city.

The faction led by Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal removed KP Sharma Oli from the post of party co-chair and unanimously nominated senior party leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as the new party co-chair.

On the other hand, Oli told his faction leaders in Baluwatar that his faction was the authentic NCP and Dahal/Nepal faction had no authority to call party meetings. “How can a Central Committee meeting be legal when the first chair and general secretary of the party have not given their consent,” said Oli.

The NCP, which had 173 members in the dissolved 275-member House of Representatives (HoR), was formed by the merger of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre on May 17, 2018, creating the largest communist force in the country.

NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said out of 445 Central Committee members, 315 were present in the faction meeting.

Dahal/Nepal faction condemned the dissolution of the HoR, terming it an unconstitutional, undemocratic, autocratic, regressive, and arbitrary act. It rejected the HoR dissolution and demanded immediate summoning of the new session of the Parliament.

Shrestha said the CC endorsed the agenda set by the Standing Committee (SC) and decided to remove Oli from the party chair for acting against the constitution, democracy, party unity and discipline by recommending dissolution of the HoR. The Dahal/Nepal faction also urged party leaders and cadres to unitedly move ahead to achieve the party’s goals.

Addressing the gathering, Dahal said their faction represented the NCP as it was ideologically committed to Marxism, Leninism, and socialism. He denounced the meeting in Baluwatar as an event of a faction that wanted to split the party.

According to Shrestha, Dahal also appealed to party cadres to help protect historical political gains and advance the cause of socialism.

Senior leader Jhalanath Khanal told party leaders and cadres to firmly stand in favor of the NCP.

Nepal said nobody should dream of reviving old parties.

Dahal/Nepal faction adopted a proposal appealing to all party leaders and cadres to remain united under the banner of the NCP.

The next CC meeting will be held on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Oli-led faction formed a general convention organizing committee comprising 1,199 members and proposed to hold the party’s general convention on November 18-23. A meeting to be held on December 24 will finalize the date of the general convention.

Oli, who claimed that his faction represented the authentic NCP, added 556 members to the Central Committee.

The Oli-led Central Committee meeting also removed Narayan Kaji Shrestha as party spokesperson, appointing Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali in his place.

Addressing mediapersons after the meeting, Gyawali said HoR was dissolved and mid-term elections were announced, as elections alone could complete the party unification process.

Two senior leaders of the NCP and Secretariat members, Bamdev Gautam and Ram Bahadur Thapa, did not attend any faction’s meeting.

Nepal, Shrestha, and Khanal had gone to Gautam’s place, while Dahal had gone to Thapa’s residence, to convince the two senior leaders to join today’s CC meeting. Shrestha said Gautam told them that he was opposed to the dissolution of the HoR, but was exploring ways to keep party unity intact.

Shrestha claimed that Thapa assured Dahal of joining his faction. “I hope that Thapa joins us on Thursday,” he added.

Dahal/Nepal faction also nominated former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara to the party’s Standing Committee.

Which faction has or will have the legal status is subject to the decision of the Election Commission — and if it fails to do so, the matter will be resolved by the court.

The Oli faction has approached the Election Commission to register the changes made to the party statute.

Allegations and counter-allegations Oli and Dahal have been engaged in for the past few months continued on Tuesday as well.

Oli said that despite giving the role of “executive chair”, Dahal did nothing to complete the unification process.

“Instead they prepared a no-confidence motion and planned an impeachment and even showed the audacity to expel the party chairman,” said Oli.

At his gathering, Dahal said Oli completely failed on the governance front and could not control corruption.

“And when it came to the party, we had to beg for party meetings,” said Dahal. “We carry the true spirit of the party unity. With us are all the former Maoist members and those senior leaders from then UML who led their party several times.”

Dahal argued that a two-thirds majority of members are with his faction.

The Dahal faction has claimed to have 315 Central Committee members on its side.

Oli faction submits list of members of the party’s enlarged Central Committee to Election Commission

A faction of Nepal Communist Party led by KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday submitted a list of members of the enlarged Central Committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party to the Election Commission in an effort to get recognition for the faction as the legitimate party as the ruling party heads for a split.

“We have received a letter notifying that the Central Committee of the Nepal Communist Party has nominated additional members in the committee,” Raj Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson at the commission told the Post.

The Oli faction can now claim majority in the party based on the enlarged Central Committee where loyalists to Oli have been added.

Whether the commission will recognize this enlargement is a question of debate.

A legal expert who have worked at the commission told that the commission can recognise the enlargement only if it has been enlarged by a majority vote of the existing Central Committee or on the basis of the statute of the party that authorizes Oli, as a chair of the party, to nominate new members in its Central Committee.

However, the faction led by another chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal holds a majority in the Central Committee recognized by the Election Commission.

Party leaders of the majority faction said that the majority of the existing Central Committee members were absent in the meeting organized by the Oli faction.

As per the section 44 (1) of the Political Parties Act, the faction which claims to have made an official decision, must submit the necessary basis of the claim which includes signatures of at least 40 percent of the members of the Central Committee within 30 days of the dispute in the party.

According to the Act, after seeking views from rival factions, the commission will encourage them to go for consensus and if no consensus is reached it will give legitimacy to one faction’s decision or the faction itself as the parent party, based on the evidence submitted. If such recognition cannot be given to one faction, the commission will recognize the faction, which could show the majority in the central committee before the claims were made.

The officially recognized faction is entitled to stay as a parent party while another faction can register a new party, according to section 44 (6) of the Political Parties Act. The faction recognized as a parent party also gets the election symbol that it has been using.

Sun, the election symbol of the NCP was earlier the election symbol of the CPN-UML before it merged with Dahal-led Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) in May 2018.

Earlier, the Dahal-Nepal faction had notified the commission that the Standing Committee of the party had decided to make a recommendation to the central committee to take disciplinary action against Oli. The Dahal-Nepal faction-led Central Committee later on Tuesday decided to remove Oli from the post of party chair and elect Nepal as the chair.

Congress leaders divided over whether to fight for House reinstatement or prepare for elections

The primary opposition, Nepali Congress (NC), is in the midst of a major dilemma — whether to support the midterm elections announced by the KP Sharma Oli government or spearhead a struggle for restoration of the dissolved HoR.

To figure out its political course, the party convened its Central Working Committee meeting from Tuesday but the leaders are already divided.

A certain section of the party is considering the prospect of midterm polls to be held on April 30 and May 10, as announced by the Oli government, and should the party start making preparations accordingly.

There are those leaders who see no possibility of the elections and are in favor of holding a nationwide protest against the government’s move of dissolving the lower house of Parliament.

The view of Nepali Congress on Oli’s move to dissolve the HoR is somewhat consistent across the board, that it is unconstitutional. But at the same time, the announcement of snap elections has led some leaders to ponder if the party should accept Oli’s decision to go for a fresh mandate through elections.

At Tuesday’s Central Working Committee meeting, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said Oli’s decision to dissolve the House was guided by his desire to become an autocrat.

“Nepali Congress cannot support the unconstitutional and undemocratic decision taken by the Oli administration. At this time, we have to play the role of a guardian,” the leader quoted Deuba as saying.

Though Deuba condemned Oli’s action, some leaders close to him suggested using the midterm elections in Congress’s favor, as they reckon that the ruling NCP is teetering on the brink of split.

Leaders from the Deuba fold, like Narayan Khadka and NP Sawad, said at the Central Working Committee meeting that the party should prepare for elections while cautioning the party leadership against taking to the streets for reinstatement of the HoR.

“Even our own leaders have in the past dissolved the parliament and successfully conducted elections,” Khadka said. “Who knows what directions the protest will take.”

Khadka suggested that the party should focus on elections despite Oli’s move being unconstitutional.

“We have to wait what the Supreme Court says about the House dissolution as well, as a dozen cases have been registered against Oli’s move,” he said. “If the court decides to reinstate the House, we shall welcome the verdict. If that did not happen, we have to consider going to the polls. Going on a protest is the most difficult alternative.”

Senior Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel is certain that holding the midterm elections within the next six months is impossible.

“Nepali Congress should strongly oppose the decision to dissolve the House of Representatives,” he told the meeting. “We should hold a nationwide protest against Oli’s decision.”

Another leader Mahesh Acharya, who is close to Poudel, expressed a similar view.

“Nepal Congress has no choice besides organizing street protests against House dissolution,” he said.

Acharya also suggested that the party should spearhead a separate protest and not join the ruling party leaders who too are standing up against Oli.

“We should not support the political line of Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal when we go on a protest, because they are equally responsible for the current mess that we are in,” Acharya said.

A Central Working Committee member told that the House dissolution has created a clear divide in the party, one in favor of the House reinstatement and the other in favor of the polls.

The Deuba faction seems confident that NC will gain majority if the elections were to be held as announced, while the Poudel camp is more circumspect.

“Opinions are divided,” Dr Shekhar Koirala, a Central Working Committee member, said. “I don’t see the chances of the House reinstatement, nor of the midterm elections.”

“There is a possibility of a third scenario, the one that happened after the first Constituent Assembly was dissolved in 2012 following which an interim government was formed under Khil Raj Regmi,” added Koirala.

The Poudel faction suspect that Deuba could try to push the party to join an all-party government under Oli in order to hold the midterm elections, or to form an election government led by Deuba himself.

Poodle and his supporters are wary of the recent understanding between Deuba and Oli over the appointments in various constitutional bodies.

“We should not chase after power and position,” Poudel said at the Central Working Committee meeting, warning the party leadership against forming an alliance that could jeopardize the party’s reputation.


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