KATHMANDU, April 30 : Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has offered to make the party's senior leader Bam Dev Gautam the new prime minister and Madhav Kumar Nepal the chairman in order to settle the intra-party disputes within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
During a meeting of the party's Secretariat that concluded late Wednesday evening, PM Oli announced to step down once the coronavirus epidemic is over. PM Oli, however, argued that it would be 'irrelevant' to seek his 'immediate' resignation as the country fights against the COVID-19.
According to a Secretariat member, Prime Minister Oli argued that Gautam could be elected as prime minister either by bringing an amendment to the constitution or by holding a by-election in one of the constituencies after asking a lawmaker elected under the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral to vacate his/her seat.
Senior leader Gautam was defeated in the election to the House of Representatives (HoR) in the last parliamentary election in 2017. Existing provisions in the constitution makes it mandatory to have a directly elected lawmaker of the House of Representatives to be eligible for the post of prime minister.
As such, NCP's Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has proposed to make Nepal, who was elected as a member of HoR in the last parliamentary election, as new prime minister, after Oli’s resignation. Although senior leader Gautam welcomed the prime minister's proposal, Dahal and Nepal had insisted that Prime Minister Oli should step down as he had failed, both in the party and the government fronts.
Similarly, PM Oli proposed to make senior leader Nepal the third chairman of the NCP in order to address his concerns within the party. Nepal was unhappy as he was below Chairman Dahal in the party’s hierarchy. Both Oli and Dahal are chairmans of the NCP.
Party insiders believe that PM’s proposal is aimed at breaking the Dahal-Nepal alliance. Oli is in the minority in the Secretariat, Standing Committee and the Parliamentary Party Committee of the NCP after Nepal and Gautam decided to join the Dahal faction, arguing that Oli had acted 'unilaterally' both in the party and the government.
The next Secretariat meeting of the party has been scheduled for Saturday. As Dahal and Nepal factions had already collected signatures on Wednesday to oust Oli from power, party insiders say it is important to see how Dahal-Nepal alliance responds to the Oli's proposals in the next Secretariat meeting.
The Dahal-Nepal alliance had earlier sought to convene the party's standing committee meeting as well. But PM Oli has so far brushed aside the need to call for the Standing Committee meeting as he had already withdrawn the controversial ordinances and offered to mend the ways of the government.