January 28, 2020 07:48 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Jan 28: A central committee meeting of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is starting from Wednesday, with all eyes on how the ruling party will deal with some thorny issues, including the party’s position on the $500 million MCC grant being dangled by the USA.
The party is sharply divided over whether or not to endorse the US grant through parliament. A section of the party’s leaders is opposed to endorsement, arguing that the aid proposal is part of a ‘military alliance’ under America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Key NCP leaders including Prime Minister KP Oli and Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali are, however, for parliamentary endorsement without further ado.
The MCC debate is also likely to enter parliament, with the election of the new lower house speaker now out of the way.
A day after being elected speaker, NCP leader Agni Sapkota did not say clearly what the fate of the MCC would be. Sapkota, who is close to Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said he will comment on the issue only after going through the fine print in the agreement.
“Debate is ongoing. I’m listening to all sides. Let’s keep listening. There is no need to comment in haste,” Sapkota told reporters after assuming the office of speaker on Monday.
Meanwhile, the ruling party’s central committee meeting is taking place soon amid heated debate at every available party forum. Dissident leaders are taking the scheduled central committee meeting as an opportunity to raise the issue and drive their point home to the party leadership. A total of 451 members are gathering at the city hall auditorium for the meeting as there is not enough seating room at party headquarters.
After failing to decide about the MCC through its standing committee meeting, the NCP had entrusted its secretariat, the party’s top body, to grasp the nettle. The issue, however, remained unresolved as a majority in the nine-member secretariat is opposed to endorsing the grant package.
Central committee members are now preparing to pry out the position of the party leadership. Leaders are also raising questions over the government’s performance and the party’s future course.
Asked about the agenda for the meeting, Surya Thapa, the party’s deputy publicity department chief, said the central committee meeting will focus on endorsing the political dossier previously tabled at the standing committee meeting. Disagreeing with some of the issues including the MCC, some leaders are to demand revising the political report presented by party Chairmen Oli and Dahal.
“The party chairmen will table the report at the meeting seeking its approval. Rest of the agenda will be decided as raised by the central committee members,” said Thapa.