KATHMANDU, Sept 8: A section of leaders in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), mainly those loyal to Madhav Kumar Nepal and former Maoists, are pushing for giving the responsibility of handling party affairs solely to Pushpa Kamal Dahal, one of the party's two chairmen in the context of the other chairman KP Oli already heading the government.
NCP, which was formed merging two communist parties — CPN-UML and former Maoist rebels — into one ahead of 2017's parliamentary elections, has two chairmen. Of late, Oli has been leading the government and is seen more decisive than Dahal in making crucial decisions in the party as well.
Before the merger of the two communist parties to form the NCP, leaders had made an understanding in writing to share power between the two of them. A five-point agreement signed before the unification states the two chairmen “will lead the government based on equality for equal periods of time”.The agreement reached between the two leaders before unification, however, has not been implemented in practice so far.
Leaders say they have already raised the issue of 'one leader, one responsibility' in the party for "running the party smoothly."
“Since our party is not operating smoothly now, things should come clear about the work division - mainly running the government and the party,” said NCP leader Devendra Paudel, “That's why we are raising this issue informally and will raise it in the party's meeting whenever it is convened.”
Poudel, who represents the former Maoist faction in the ruling party, said two leaders have been holding discussions to settle the work division row between them after the issue was informally floated in party organizations.
Before going to Singapore for health check-up, Oli had assigned Dahal to lead party affairs as party chief for the first time since the party merger was announced in 2017. Dahal convened the party's Secretariat meeting and took some decisions concerning the party's unification. This has raised eyebrows of former Maoist leaders.
Concerned over Dahal's move, Oli summoned two key Secretariat members including the party's General Secretary Bishnu Poudel to Singapore. Leaders close to Dahal believe the leaders were summoned aimed at stopping Dahal from taking further decisions through the Secretariat meeting.
Oli, a kidney patient, is not much focused on party-building activities, say critics in the party. Citing his poor health conditions and dual responsibilities, party leaders have been demanding that Oli should hand over the party leadership to Dahal if he wants to continue running the government as the prime minister.
“For some people, the concept of 'One Leader, One Position' may sound like a technical issue but it has already been raised in the party,” said another NCP leader Yubaraj Gyawali speaking at a program organized in Kathmandu, “Since we have now two chairmen, this must be enforced in our party at least unless the general convention is held.”
Gyawali argued the party chiefs need to hold the government accountable in case the government leader makes bad or wrong performance and there must be a clear work division between the two chairmen especially when the party is in a transitional phase.
He said democratic parties like NCP should not adopt the Chinese or Russian model in which a single individual commands both party and government. “Like in China or Russia, only one leader should not be entrusted to head the party and government,” said Gyawali adding, “Oli should lead the government and the sole responsibility of leading the party should be given to Prachandaji He should be fully supportive to Oli.”