KATHMANDU, Dec 20: At a time when the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is on the verge of split, the relationship between Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the party's Executive Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is getting worse as their talks in Khumaltar on Saturday morning failed to yield any desired outcomes. Relations between the two chairmen deteriorated further after Dahal rejected Oli's request to withdraw a political report submitted on November 13 and prepare a joint document at a meeting of the party Secretariat.
After the talks between the two chairmen ended inconclusively, Prime Minister Oli has started three strategies. According to high-level NCP sources, as a first step, he has asked Secretariat member Ram Bahadur Thapa, who is also the Home Minister, to write a joint political report. In the second strategy, Oli plans to nominate Bamdev Gautam, the party's vice-chairman, as the first chairman, and in the third, he will accept Dahal’s report as a reference material and submit a joint report to the party’s Standing Committee meeting on behalf of both the chairpersons.
Oli met Thapa on Saturday and asked him to prepare a report. Oli had asked Dahal to return the political report that the latter had submitted to the Secretariat meeting on November 13, but Dahal continued refusing to do so. With Dahal refusing to withdraw the political report, Oli then met Thapa at his residence and requested to prepare a separate report and submit it to the Standing Committee, according to a source.
“The prime minister has asked the home minister to prepare a report that is acceptable by all in the party. No one should take sides. You are also a member of the Secretariat. The responsibility of maintaining party unity has fallen on your shoulders,” the source said, quoting the prime minister's request to Thapa.
Sources claim that some leaders of the Oli faction are preparing to formulate their own strategies as some leaders of the former Maoist group are in favor of replacing the report of both the chairpersons and bringing a joint report.
Bamdev Gautam was also present at the meeting held at Dahal's residence in Khumaltar on Saturday morning. Gautam has been saying that he will not join factional meetings but will participate in the group discussion.
“Vice Chairman Gautam was also called during the meeting between the two chairmen but the talks were not fruitful as expected,” said a source close to Dahal. “Gautam also asked two chairmen to come to a conclusion and maintain unity in the party and told the prime minister to be a bit more responsible. Talks were held but there was no discussion in what issues were not agreed upon.”
Oli, who reached Khumaltar at around 10 in the morning, left two hours later. Oli left after senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal arrived.
Prime Minister Oli reached the ministers’ official quarters at Pulchowk on his way to Baluwatar after he left Dahal’s residence.
Sources claim that Oli, who had a brief conversation with Home Minister Thapa in Pulchowk, urged to maintain party unity by bringing a joint report that would be acceptable to all. While Oli and Thapa were talking, Land Reforms Minister Padma Aryal, Physical Infrastructure Minister Basanta Kumar Nembang and Health Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal also joined.
Oli told them that his meeting with Dahal turned fruitless. “Today's meeting has not been very fruitful. A meeting of the Standing Committee is underway where we can discuss ways to find a solution to the problem, but it is also a matter of party consensus, and past agreements have been violated,” Oli said. The Dahal-Nepal camp is pursuing a strategy to oust Oli from one of his posts--party chairman and Prime Minister-- but Oli is not ready to budge.
Oli held a series of meetings on Saturday. “After leaving Khumaltar, he was busy all day. He was very concerned about how to preserve the party unity and was in discussion with the home minister and other leaders,” said a source close to Baluwatar. Prime Minister Oli, who had been meeting the leaders all day, reached Shital Niwas in the evening to meet President Bidya Devi Bhandari. He had briefed Bhandari about the day's events.