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Nepal: Chinese Ambassador Intervenes for the third time to save Oli and prevent split in NCP

Paper No. 6706                      Dated 23-Nov-2020
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
With an imminent split in the Nepal Communist Party and the fall of Prime Minister Oli, the Chinese Ambassador Hou Yan Qi met Oli for the third time to persuade him to convene and attend the Party Secretariat Meeting that was finally held on the 11th November.  Unstated but understood was that the other Party leaders led by Dahal will not press for resignation immediately.  Dahal the Co-Chairman listed a series of accusations against Oli.  Oli sought time till 28th of this month to explain in detail point by point the allegations.
The meeting on the 28th is soon to be followed by the party’s 44 member Standing Committee meeting on December 3rd finally leading to the Central Committee meeting on December 10th.
Earlier, Dahal has had three informal Secretariat Meetings and many one to one meetings besides emissaries from Oli meeting Dahal separately.  Nothing worked.
It is interesting to see the Chinese Ambassador openly meeting the Ruling Party leaders. The excuse given this time was that she was there for extending  “Tihar “ greetings.  She met PM Oli, other top leaders and the President in end April when Oli was under pressure to resign. Again in July this year she met the President, PM and the internal opposition triumvirate- Dahal, Khanal and Madhav Nepal.  Again on 10th November she met Oli and it was then that Oli relented and agreed to convene the Secretariat meeting.
The President Bidya Devi Bhandari had been actively meeting the top leaders of the Ruling Party to avoid a split in the Party.  She met Dahal on 10th evening and Oli on 11th morning to patch up the differences. It is very unusual to see the President of the country interfering in the affairs of a political party that is torn by dissensions and many have commented that she is acting as the President of the Party and not that of the Country.
In the meeting on the 11th Dahal openly accused Oli of not following the party programme and the manifesto and failing to control the pandemic.  He accused the Government of encouraging corruption in procurement of medical supplies and other purchases.  In essence he said that the Government had failed in its three-year rule. He asked Oli to make sacrifices, accept the mistakes for the sake of the party unity, Constitution and the Federal setup.
Oli made some weak defence and bemoaned the fact that Dahal was  spreading lies and that the Prime Minister’s hands are being tied and was being “cornered.”  
Many political leaders including some from the Communist Party like Lilamani Pokhrel have criticised the Chinese Ambassador’s role.  
Dahal had in the mealtime released a 19 page political document listing out all his grievances and PM Oli is supposed to respond to the points in the next meeting on the 28th of November.
From the recent developments some observations could be made.
1.  Oli got elected on a nationalistic plank and at one point had more than three fourth majority in the House.  He wasted his chances by his arrogance and irresponsible statements. He was not willing to listen to the other three top leaders of the Party and had already prepared the ground work for resurrecting the old UML party. It was only after meeting the Chinese Ambassador and the push given by the President Mrs Bhandar that he relented.
2. There is a feeling among many that Regional Powers are getting active thus affecting Nepa’s sovereignty.  In this they include the visit of Indian external Intelligence Chief and it is now said that he had come as an emissary of the Indian Prime Minister.(Yuv Raj Ghimre)  The Chinese Defence Minister is visiting next week and only a few days earlier the Indian Army Chief visited.  Though the visit of the Indian Chief was routine and part of a tradition, it wass being interpreted as a visit to reset the ties between India and Nepal!
3.  In the midst of internal problems, transitional justice has been totally forgotten.  It is now 14 years since the signing of the Peace Accord and not a single victim of the Conflict has got any justice.  Since some members of the Ruling Party as well as those in opposition are involved, it is being delibertely stalled.  Who cares for the Victims now?
4.  The migrant labour that returned with a lot of hope of being taken care of has been left unattended.  Many of them have slowly returned back particularly to India.  Meantime, the pandemic continues to inflict a heave toll in the country.  The Wuhan Virus is proving to be “more lethal” than the Indian ones for PM OLi.  The latest victim was a prominent Cardiologist and a Professor in the Teaching Hospital Dr. Sunil Chandra Jha.  No plans are seen to have been made even now  for obtaining and distributing the vaccines which will be ready the world over by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. The general view is that the Wuhan Pandemic has reached a critical stage particularly in the Valley.
5. As one Analyst has described, the problems faced by Nepal are not institutional but entirely about leadership.  On October 14 the Government created another controversy in sending a circular of the Law Ministry that all departments should use the term “Nepal” and not the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.   This was opposed by the Constitutional experts and now it is being changed to call Nepal as the “Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.”  But has Nepal become truly a federal Republic?  Powers are still retained at the Centre and almost all the Provinces including those led by the Ruling Parties have complained.  But the leaders at the centre have no time to look into these issues.
6.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled  in favour of Bam Dev Gautham, more internal problems could be expected with Gautham seeking the post of Prime Minister or of a senior Minister.  Gautham may once again go over to Oli’s side thus tilting the balance in the Secretariat in Oli’s favour.  More drama is sure to follow and it is now fit for a TV Serial!
7.  We are also seeing a steady weakening of Dahal’s position within the Ruling Party.  His erstwhile close comrade and chief of the Maoist fighters, Ram Bahadur Thapa is now firmly in Oli’s camp.  Another very close idelogical colleague Baburam Bhattarai has left the Party, formed a new Party and is now working with the Terain Groups.  Another top colleague “Biplab” has taken up arms once again and is recruiting former fighters.  Dahal reached his pinnacle of glory when he was elected as a Prime Minister with a comfortable majority.  He blew up that opportunity by crossing swords with the President and hastily resigning his post.  He has had his personal tragedies too.  He is also vulnerable and can be proceeded against internationally for the atrocities committed during the civil war. His attempt to make People’s Democracy as the main ideological plank for the party will also have very few supporters. Oli seems to be aware of Dahal’s weakness!