KATHMANDU, Feb 20: A faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is organizing a mass gathering in Biratnagar, the capital of Province 1, on Saturday afternoon in an apparent bid to show its strength in the eastern part of the country.
The Oli-led faction has been organizing the gathering as the regional showdown of its faction after it recently organized similar gatherings in Kathmandu and Butwal. The faction is scheduled to hold similar gatherings in all provinces.
The faction has claimed to bring as many as 200,000 people in the regional event, which is being organized at an open space near Birat Nursing Home. Prime Minister Oli, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, former House Speaker Subash Chandra Nembang and Province 1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai, among others, are scheduled to address the gathering.
Following the dissolution of the 275-member House of Representatives (HoR) by President Bidya Devi Bhandari upon the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on December 20 last year, the ruling party has witnessed a vertical split. The two factions -- one led by PM Oli and the other by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal-- have been organizing mass gatherings and rallies in a bid to show off their strength.
The Dahal-Nepal faction has taken to the streets, claiming that the move of the prime minister to dissolve the parliament was an unconstitutional move. However, the Oli-led faction has maintained that it is the prerogative of the prime minister to dissolve parliament and seek fresh mandate.
Analysts see the gatherings being organized by the Oli-led faction as an attempt to defend the controversial move of the government to dissolve the parliament and announce midterm polls for April 30 and May 10
As many as 13 writ petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court seeking reinstatement of the parliament. The The five-member Constitutional Bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher conducted hearings on the petitions for almost two months. The apex court is expected to issue a verdict in a few days as the hearings in the petitions concluded on Friday.