KATHMANDU, Dec 24: Leaders of the former Maoist faction within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) are miffed with their leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal for what they describe as 'trading' the position of House speaker for the post of party executive chairperson.
Although the ruling party has not officially decided its candidate for new speaker, multiple NCP leaders that Republica talked to confide that party Executive Chairperson Dahal and NCP Chairperson cum Prime Minister K P Oli have already reached an understanding to pick Subas Nembang.
“With the formal unification of the party and Oli honoring an agreement to hand over to him the helm of the party, it became morally difficult for Dahal to insist on the speaker position for the Maoist faction,” said a senior NCP leader close to Dahal. Oli handed over the executive function in the party to Dahal last month.
According to another senior party leader, Oli and Dahal agreed to pick Nembang as speaker at a meeting held on Monday at the prime minister's official residence at Baluwatar.
But most NCP leaders from the Maoist faction are miffed with Dahal for giving up their faction's stake for the sake of his own new position in the party. “He (Dahal) has not shared with us much about the speaker pick so far even as the election date inches closer. I suspect he has already agreed with Oli on Nembang because many have told me this,” another NCP leader close to Dahal said Monday.
“If he has agreed to give the speaker's position to the erstwhile UML camp it would be a blunder. Dahal is certain to lose his hold in the party. He will realize this only later,” the party leader said, requesting not to be named. He was of the view that the position of executive chairperson was merely ceremonial without any executive powers to exercise.
Former ministers Agni Sapkota, Dev Gurung and Pampha Bhusal from the erstwhile Maoist party are also in the fray for the position of new speaker.
Stating that the speakership was allotted to the Maoist party while electing Krishna Bahadur Mahara two years ago, leaders from the faction have been reiterating that the party leadership should pick a candidate from the same faction as most of the powerful positions including president, prime minister and National Assembly chairperson are held by the former UML.
A House meeting scheduled for Friday is likely to announce the date for the election of new speaker. The post has been lying vacant since early October after the resignation of Mahara following allegations of attempted rape.
However, the former UML faction within the NCP is unanimous that with the formal unification of the party there is no point in talking about former Maoists or the former UML over any issue. “It is just a trick to weaken the strength of our side in the party because Oli picked leaders from the UML to replace ministers from both the Maoists and the UML in the cabinet reshuffle last month,” said one NCP leader.
But another NCP leader, who is loyal to Dahal, said multiple factors could have compelled Dahal to give the position of speaker to Nembang. “Nembag possesses experience of handling House sessions even during difficult situations. Dahal had also given assurances to Nembang two years ago that he would be elected speaker immediately after the election of the House of Representatives. Both these factors could have made him take such a decision,” added the leader asking not to be named.