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Nepal: Internal Rift within NCP comes into the Open: Oli is Adamant.

Paper No. 6701                      Dated 10- Nov- 2020
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
 
It is known that a serious rift had taken place within the top leadership of the Nepal Communist Part- essentially between a faction led by Co- Chairman Dahal and that of the Prime Minister K.P.Oli. It is also known that it was temporarily patched up by the intervention of the Chines Ambassador in Kathmandu.
 
  Many in the media feel that the crisis has reached the “tipping point”.  This week Oli came out in the open in a televised interview and said “I will not bow down to the coercions for my resignation.” He added that he wanted this message to go to the people, the party and the bureaucracy that the Government is stable.
 
The issue related to the  calling for a meeting of the Party Secretariat by Dahal faction where Oli does not have a majority.  For a brief period the Deputy Chairman Bam Dev Gautham had switched sides and was with Oli.  At that point, Oli could have convened the Party Secretariat and strengthened his own position as the Prime Minister.  He missed and Gautham is now back again with the opposite faction that has five out of nine members in the Secretariat.
 
 Continuing in the interview Oli said that he cannot be calling the meeting of the Party Secretariat at their convenience and will not be holding the meeting anytime soon.  
 
 Oli also openly alleged that the party leadership was trying to split the party and even accused them of nepotism and favouritism.
 
The whole issue surfaced on the 5th of October when it was thought that everything was settled. a Dahal had a personal meeting with Oli on that day.  The meeting did not go well.  Dahal wanted  Oli to call for a meeting of the Party Secretariat to discuss  problems that have risen over the appointments in the Cabinet, diplomatic posts and the more serious no confidence motion against the Chief Minister (Dahal’s man) in Karnali Province.
 
It is said that Dahal perhaps told Oli that he would go ahead with the meeting as he as co- chairman had the power to convene a meeting.  In response Oli threatened that any formal meeting of the Party Secretariat without his consent would mean a declaration of a party split.
 
So Dahal convened an -‘informal’  meeting on the 6th of November and it looked that Dahal was as yet not ready for a formal split (The Chinese will not allow).  Significantly the Oli faction consisting of the Prime Minister Oli, his two confidantes Bishnu Paudel and Ishwor Pokhrel as well as former military head of the Maoists and now with Oli Ram Bahadur Thapa did not attend the meeting.
 
The meeting decided to put pressure jointly on Oli by meeting him personally.  Many charges were made against Oli.  The newly added member Bam Dev Gautham who had been switching sides from time to time, made an open charge against Oli of refusing to abide by the Party’s decisions and avoiding meetings. 
 
It appears that a joint letter had also been issued to Oli demanding the convening of the Secretarial meeting.  Oli not only refused to convene the meeting but accused the Secretariat members of promoting factional politics.
 
The meeting of the five members of the Secretariat consisting of Dahal, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Bam Dev Gautham, Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Nepal in pursuance of the informal meeting  did not go well.  One insider said that it was more a shouting match, personal attacks and a widening rift.
 
In the television interview Oli said defiantly that he “will not budge from his stance and will not come under any pressure to fulfill the interests of vested interests.”
 
Dahal is now left with no option but to go for splitting the party.   But will he?  It is still doubtful whether he would take that decision.  In the entire party setup he is not so strong although till now the two other Party heavy weights of former UML Khanal and Madhav Nepal are with him.
 
Oli has already threatened of some “big action.”  He could think of dissolving the assembly- the President is there to do his bidding or bring an ordinance to allow an easy split of the party.  In either case the split in the party will have a cost.  The Party in the present form as the Nepal Communist Party may not come to power again.  But the opposition led by Deuba is still weak and still led by incompetent leaders.  Then there is the Chinese Ambassador who would try again, a role that had been taken by the Indian ambassadors earlier.
 
The open visit of the R &AW Chief and his one to one meeting with Oli is still  having reverberations in Nepal.  One Nepal political analyst wanted to know since when India had handed over foreign policy relating to Nepal to Spy agencies.  One India analyst went to the extent of saying that it was a message more to the Foreign Ministry in India that they can do better!  At any rate the dissidents within ruling party are agitated and want to know what transpired in the meeting Oli had with the R&AW Chief.  
 
These are perhaps the unintended consequences of an open visit with no agenda, done when there is virtually a political turmoil involving the PM and other senior leaders within the Ruling Party!
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