KATHMANDU, June 22: As differences emerge between two chairmen of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, a crucial secretariat meeting scheduled for Friday was postponed in the last minute citing lack of preparations. Top leaders remained busy throughout the day in their attempt to reach understanding on several outstanding issues related to party operation and government process and resolve differences.
Some leaders said that the secretariat meeting could be held on Saturday.
The outstanding issues include formation of party politburo, cabinet reshuffle, review of government performance and a power-sharing agreement between the then CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN-UML before their merger.
The powerful communist government led by KP Oli is facing widespread criticism after it introduced a series of controversial laws aimed at curtailing civil liberties and over the intra-party politics. Top party leaders themselves are divided over the government’s performance and concluding the party unification process.
“One can easily see there are differences in the party. That’s why the meeting could not take place. But leaders are holding several one-on-ones,” said a source privy to party chairman and prime minister, Oli.
In a bid to seek consensus on the disputed issues the two chairmen -- Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal -- held a one-on-one meeting at the Baluwatar early in the morning. Shortly after the meeting between the two chairmen, Oli met senior party leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. Then, Oli held another round of meeting with Dahal in the presence of party general secretary Bishnu Paudel.
The leaders reportedly discussed ways to settle the long-delayed politburo formation process and work division of central committee members. The meetings, according to the leader privy to the development, were also focused on a wide range of issues including review of government performance, change in government and internal power-sharing.
Although both Oli and Dahal are for reshuffling the cabinet, Oli is reportedly much concerned over whether the reshuffling invites instability in the party.
The Ministry of Tourism is still without a minister since the death of tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari in a helicopter crash in February. Additionally, the prime minister is reportedly mulling over removing under-performing ministers.
Although it is already more than a year since the two parties merged to form the NCP, the party is still unable to form its politburo and assign responsibilities to its central committee members paralyzing party activities at the grassroots.
During Friday’s meetings, Oli reportedly proposed appointing in the politburo those leaders who have been elected to the central committee twice. But dissident leaders have been pushing to appoint their loyals in the politburo.
Oli and Dahal also discussed reshuffling the cabinet and the agreement between them to divide the prime ministerial term.
A fresh debate has started among leaders regarding power-sharing after a section of leaders within the party disclosed a five-point agreement reportedly signed a year ago before the merger of the two communist parties.
The agreement, which had been kept secret so far and was made public on social media to the surprise of many, states that the two chairmen “will head the government based on equality for equal periods of time”.