Picking NCP dept chiefs gets knottier as more honchos join fray

Published On: July 28, 2019 06:51 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 28: The top brass of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has been struggling to figure out a solution for power-sharing in the party’s key departments as multiple party leaders have staked their claims to certain posts.

The post of chief of the party’s school department has become a major bone of contention with at least four party heavyweights,including Ishwar Pokharel and Narayankaji Shrestha, lobbying intensely for it. As the top leadership couldn’t make a choice between these two, another two standing committee members, Ghanashyam Bhusal and Beduram Bhusal, are now making their own claims.

With the selection of the party school department chief becoming ever more complicated, former prime minister and NCP senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal has also expressed his willing to step into that role. 

Though the party brass held several rounds of formal and informal meetings in the past couple of weeks to resolve the matter, they could make no headway. 

 A meeting of the party secretariat, which comprises the nine top leaders, has been scheduled for Sunday, and many party insiders assume that the two co-chairmen – Prime Minister KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal- may opt for former prime minister Khanal as a middle-way solution to end the deadlo.

The choice originally was between Pokharel and Shrestha, they couldn’t agree on either one as the former Maoists strongly objected to Pokharel’s name while those from the former UML didn’t accept Shrestha either.

When it comes to Ghanashyam Bhusal, Oli himself might not be positive, given their long-standing ideological differences over the Janatako Bahudaliya Janabad [People’s Multiparty Democracy] propounded by the late UML general secretary Madan Bhandari. While Bhusal is critical of Bhandari’s ideology, Oli says this ideology is complete in itself and remains relevant despite the recent political changes.

Last week, Oli held separate group meetings of former UML leaders in a bid to forge an understanding among themselves on the matter. 

However, the leaders said they haven’t found an amicable solution. 

According to one party leader, Oli at a recent meeting with Pokharel, conveyed to the latter that making him chief of the school department was becoming a real struggle as the former Maoists had made it a prestige issue.

One and half years after the merger of the two parties – CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)- to form the NCP, the leaders of the unified party are still suspicious to each other and this surfaced more openly over the matter of picking the school department chief.

At the time of the party unification, the sides agreed to adopt Janatako Janabad [People’s Democracy] and put the two parties’ respective guiding principles on hold until the next general convention. But the two sides still wish to push their own version of the guiding principle through the school department. The department provides trainings and orientations to party members across the country and in chapters abroad as well.

Party leaders are also divided over selecting the chief of the organization department. Bam Dev Gautam has already staked his claim to this department as it is the body which decides memberships, promotions and various roles for party leaders and cadres.

 Meanwhile, as the old guard continues to wrangle over the chiefs of the 32 departments, the youth leaders seem to be getting frustrated. Some of them have floated the idea of the two co-chairmen themselves overseeing the school department. 

Former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, whowas chief of the UML for nearly 15 years, is likely to become chief of the party’s department of foreign affairs. 

But some second-rung and youth leaders have argued that the top nine secretariat members shouldn’t be heading any of the departments. 

“The departments have roles like gathering raw details from the field and it’s up to the party leadership to analyze the issues and prepare strategy for tackling the challenges,” said a NCP leader Lekhnath Neupane adding, “That’s why none of the top leaders should be named as chief of any central department.” 

Neupane believes picking secretariat members as chiefs of the central departments will ultimately destroy the leadership potential of the party’s youths. “If the top brass keeps occupying the major departments throughout their lives how can they groom their political heirs ?” asked Neupane.

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