KATHMANDU, Dec 14: As the intraparty rift within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has further widened in recent months, prime minister and the party’s chairperson KP Sharma Oli has made attempts to woo his party's Executive Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.
Oli is trying to neutralize Dahal and Nepal by hook or crook so that they would not make an attempt to unseat him from both posts — the prime minister and party chairperson, party insiders say. Oli has been holding meetings with Dahal and Nepal side by side. However, Oli's efforts have turned futile as the duo have refused to budge so far.
As part of his efforts to woo Dahal, Oli invited him for a one-on-one meeting at Baluwatar on December 2. Oli tried to persuade Dahal to withdraw the latter's political proposal tabled at the party Secretariat.
In the political proposal, Dahal has accused Oli of failing to perform effectively in the government as well as in the party, indirectly asking Oli to step down. As the majority of the Secretariat members came heavily upon him, Oli came up with a rebuttal. Oli's rebuttal added fuel to the crisis in the party, owing to factional feuds between the two camps of the party — one led by Oli and the other by Dahal.
Amid this, despite Oli's unwillingness, the majority of the Secretariat members decided to hold the party's Standing Committee meeting on December 5 and discuss the political proposal tabled by Dahal.
Oli met Dahal last week on Wednesday to bring him into his camp. Ahead of the Standing Committee meeting that took place on Sunday, Oli met Dahal and repeated the same proposal of forging an alliance with him. However, Dahal remained non-committal yet again.
Oli has also been sending leaders who are close to him, to meet Dahal and Nepal. On Saturday, Shanker Pokharel, the chief minister of Lumbini Province, who is one of the close confidants of Oli, met Dahal at the latter's residence in Khumaltar. In the meeting, on behalf of Oli, Pokharel stressed the need for burying the hatchet and forming an alliance between Oli and Dahal. Leader Pokharel conveyed to Dahal that Oli is ready to fully implement the decisions that the party's Standing Committee had taken on September 11. "The implementation of September 11's Standing Committee meeting decisions could be a meeting point," Pokharel told Dahal.
In the meeting, Dahal told that he was miffed at Oli for his numerous unilateral decisions including the appointment of ambassadors to various countries. Dahal also objected to Oli's plan to fill vacancies at various constitutional bodies.
Although Oli is almost clear that he needs to either quit the prime minister or chairperson, he has kept nudging Dahal and Nepal time and again — meeting them in person or sending leaders close to him to meet them.
Subash Nembang, a close leader to Oli, also met Executive Chairperson Dahal on Sunday this week, ahead of the party's Standing Committee meeting. In the meeting, Nembang also echoed Shanker Pokharel. Dahal reportedly told Nembang that all outstanding issues will now be discussed at the party's Standing Committee meeting.
Last time, the Standing Committee meeting took place on Sunday, but it did not discuss the political proposal tabled by Dahal. The meeting, which lasted a couple of minutes at Baluwatar, ended by expressing condolence on the passing of the party’s central committee member Kaman Singh Lama, who succumbed to COVID-19 last week. Oli, who skipped the previous meeting, attended the meeting this time.
The next meeting of the party's Standing Committee has been slated for December 16 and the rival factions are busy preparing their own strategies before that.
Talking to Republica, NCP leader Nembang looked somewhat upbeat. He said both the chairmen are positive about finding a common ground in a bid to resolve the intraparty rift.
"I found both the chairmen serious about settling the intraparty row at the earliest. I hope it will happen soon," he said.
The intraparty rift within the NCP has also reached the local level. As a result, Oli-led and Dahal-led factions have continued holding separate gatherings in a bid to show their strength at the local level. A group of students close to the Dahal faction held a gathering in Kathmandu on Saturday while a group of students close to Oli organized their gathering in Biratnagar on the same day.
In the last week of November, Surendra Pandey, a NCP leader close to the Dahal faction was obstructed by cadres close to Oli when he was addressing a program in Chitwan.