KATHMANDU, May 14: The CPN (Maoist Center), an ally in the ruling coalition, is feeling increasingly cornered in the government with Prime Minister KP Oli further consolidating power, leaving the party with little role on matters of governance.
Maoist leaders said that Oli, who leads a coalition government of UML and CPN (Maoist Center), has been ignoring the third largest party on issues related to day-to-day functioning of the government. They said that this was happening despite repeated reservations expressed by party leaders during their recent meetings.
Maoist leaders' remarks come amid media reports that senior cabinet ministers representing the party were "sidelined" during high-level meetings during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit. Only a few Maoist ministers were seen attending bilateral meetings between the two countries. Maoist leaders said Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun and Forest Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet were reportedly not included in the bilateral meeting focused on issues concerning their ministries. The Maoist ministers were also absent during civic reception organized in Kathmandu, while only Giriraj Mani Pokharel had attended the civic reception held in Janakpur. Maoist leaders said the party's ministers skipped the meetings to express their displeasure.
Of late, Maoist leaders have become increasingly critical of Prime Minister Oli due to lack of consultations on important issues including transfer of senior government officials, political appointment in key posts and revamping of bureaucracy. Maoist leaders said Oli had not consulted the party while transferring government secretaries and appointing the vice chairman at the National Planning Commission.
Oli had also kept Maoist minister in the dark while bringing the National Investigation Department under the purview of the Prime Minister's Office. Maoist leaders have been accusing UML of not consulting them while drafting the fiscal plan and policies which is expected to be presented later this month. Though Maoist Center chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had expressed objections to the decision on multiple occasions, Oli had downplayed his activities saying a strong prime minister was in the interest of both the parties.
"Our party has expressed reservations over the prime minister's unilateral decision. But nothing has changed so far. Such activities would further widen the distrust," said Maoist leader Mani Thapa. The widening differences between the two parties over governance are likely to have adverse impact on their planned unification. The two parties have not been able to finalize the merger process due to differences over organization and ideology."The current stalemate has more to do with his (Oli's) working style than other differences. Such unilateral decisions by the prime minister could put unification in jeopardy," said a Maoist leader.