KATHMANDU, Dec 9: A secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) on Saturday called a crucial Standing Committee meeting for December 15 following continued pressure from senior leaders on prime minister and party chairman KP Oli to convene the meeting.
Miffed at Oli’s “unwillingness” to call party meetings and discuss “pertinent issues”, four key leaders- Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal, Bamdev Gautam and Narayankaji Shrestha- walked out of the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar Saturday afternoon as Oli and the other party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, among others, didn’t show up at Baluwatar at the scheduled time.
Then the other five of the nine-member secretariat briefly held a meeting and decided to call the Standing Committee meeting on December 15.
Oli, Dahal, Bishnu Poudel, Ishwar Pokharel and Ram Bahadur Thapa later discussed the issues and finalized the date for the standing committee meeting.
Senior leaders of the ruling party have been asking the party leadership to convene the Standing Committee meeting for a long time to discuss some “prominent” issues such as delay in the unification of the party’s local chapters, and non-performance of the government.
The secretariat meeting was scheduled for 3 pm but Oli and other leaders did not show up at the venue until 3:30 pm.
“We walked out of the venue as the party chairman did not appear there even after we waited there for thirty minutes and nor did he inform us about the reason for the delay,” said Khanal. “We did so thinking that it would serve as a lesson for them.”
Leaders close to Oli, however, said his participation in the meeting was delayed as he was consulting with his team over whether to meet the party’s leader Mani Khumbu, who is battling with cancer, before attending the party meeting.
“We wonder why they did so. Anyway, we discussed their move and also finalized the date for the Standing Committee meeting to discuss the party’s internal agendas,” said NCP General Secretary Paudel.
Though the party’s secretariat members often sit to discuss various issues, most of the senior leaders of the party have been demanding a Standing Committee meeting arguing that a handful of leaders in the secretariat alone don’t represent the entire party’s sentiment over various issues, “mainly in the context of the recent unification of two big parties.”
The party’s activities have been affected as the unification process could not be completed at the local level and between the various wings of the party. Several leaders of the party have publicly criticized the leadership for making them jobless as they weren’t given any defined role in the new unified party.
Differences have emerged in the party with a section of leaders rallying against party chairman Oli accusing him of undermining the dissidents’ voices in the party while leading the party and the government.
Also, party leaders are divided over a number of issues — the government’s poor performance and inaction both in the party and government. The Oli-led government is widely criticized for failing to book the culprits of Nirmala Panta, a 13-year-old girl raped and murdered in Kanchanpur some four months ago and for being closely involved in organizing the Asia Pacific Summit in Kathmandu.
Bam Dev Gautam, who was once considered a confidant lieutenant of Oli, has now distanced himself from him. Leader Nepal and Khanal are also criticizing the government for not addressing dissident views in the party.