Is the ruling NCP on the verge of split?

Published On: November 2, 2020 06:30 AM NPT By: Santosh Ghimire  | @journonepali

The party is facing a serious existential crisis, says its General Secretary Bishnu Poudel

KATHMANDU, Nov 1: General Secretary of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Bishnu Poudel said on Sunday that his party is currently facing “a serious existential crisis”.

Poudel, who is one of the close confidants of NCP Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the finance minister in his Cabinet, wrote on Twitter that the “unified existence of the NCP has witnessed a serious crisis”.

The statement from a key leader of the ruling party comes at a time when two rival factions in the party  one led by Oli and the other by Pushpa Kamal Dahal - are at loggerheads over a host of issues including the controversy that surfaced in the party following the whirlwind visit of Samant Goel, the chief of Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), that took place nearly two weeks ago.

The senior leader of the party, who is said to be working as a mediator between the two chairpersons to end the current standoff between them, also urged the party’s rank and file to contribute to keep the party’s unity intact by resolving the existing intra-party differences through consensus.

Poudel’s tweet has created ripples in the party’s internal dynamics as well as the country’s mainstream politics as the party holds a two-thirds majority in the federal parliament, and maintains a stronghold in six out of the seven provinces in the country.

According to party insiders, executive chairperson of the party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal has proposed to hold the party’s central Secretariat meeting at the earliest possible during their meeting on Saturday to discuss the intra-party rift that further deepened after Oli expanded the Cabinet earlier last month without prior knowledge of Dahal.

In a move to minimize their differences, Oli invited Dahal to Baluwatar on Saturday where they spent nearly two hours. Although the two chairpersons used to meet frequently in the past, they had met this time after a gap of 11 days, signaling a serious dispute within the ruling party. The meeting could not bring a thaw in their frosty relations, a leader close to Dahal said on Sunday.

Dahal had earlier declined to hold a meeting with Oli despite repeated requests as he was miffed with the prime minister’s 'unilateral' decisions on various issues including the appointment of ambassadors and new ministers in the cabinet. 

During their meeting on Saturday, the two supreme leaders of the party held discussions on all issues of disputes seen in the party. "Chairman Dahal has proposed settling all these issues through the Secretariat meeting. He has clearly said that the Secretariat meeting is better than the one-on-one meeting between them to resolve the disputes seen in the party in recent days," said a leader close to Dahal. 

Prime Minister Oli, however, has not said anything yet about Dahal's proposal. Dahal’s request came days after the party's Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha also demanded a Secretariat meeting to hold discussions on the disputed issues seen in the party.

Chairman Dahal and Prime Minister Oli have been at odds lately on issues related to the appointment of ambassadors, induction of new ministers in the Cabinet, and the murder of NCP district-level leader Mahesh Chaurasiya in Parsa. Dahal has also alleged that Prime Minister Oli had incited a section of NCP lawmakers to move a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister of Karnali Province Mahendra Bahadur Shahi earlier this month.

Among other things, Prime Minister Oli has courted serious criticism within the party and beyond for holding a meeting with the Indian spy agency chief in Baluwatar. Sources said the meeting between Dahal and Oli on Saturday dwelled on all these issues including the remaining tasks of party unification and the efforts made by the government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairman Dahal had earlier snubbed Prime Minister Oli’s request to hold a meeting to resolve disputes surfaced in the party. He had been avoiding the meeting for the past 11 days on different excuses. Oli had then sent a number of his close aides including Bishnu Poudel and Pradeep Gyawali to convince Dahal.

Although Dahal's Secretariat said that he had been staying isolated at home after a few people he met recently tested positive for COVID-19, sources said Dahal had deliberately avoided meeting with Oli as he was heavily dissatisfied with “Oli’s unilateral decisions by going against the spirit of party unification”. Saturday’s meeting between Oli and Dahal took place after senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal convinced Dahal to hold a meeting to resolve the differences. Oli had earlier held a one-on-one with leader Nepal to resolve the differences seen within the party.








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