KATHMANDU, April 21: The second-rung leaders of the ruling CPN-UML have intensified negotiation to save party unity after Chairman KP Oli, who is also the prime minister, sought clarification from 27 lawmakers of the federal parliament and five of the Karnali Province Assembly as preparation to suspend their position as lawmaker on Tuesday.
Yogesh Bhattarai, an influential youth leader of the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led faction in the party, held a meeting with Prime Minister Oli to discuss ways to save party unity at the latter’s office in Baluwatar on Wednesday afternoon. A section of leaders belonging to the Oli-led faction of the UML have also intensified backdoor negotiations with the Nepal-led faction as the two-day deadline given to submit clarification is expiring on Thursday.
The Nepal-led faction has maintained that Chairman Oli should revoke his unilateral decision to induct former Maoist Center leaders as the party’s central committee members and his decision to strip leaders close to the Nepal-led faction off their party responsibilities. Oli had reshuffled the responsibilities of party leaders, especially those belonging to the rival faction and assigned their responsibilities to the former Maoist Center leaders choosing to side with him when the intraparty rift in the erstwhile Nepal Communist Party (NCP) had reached its peak.
Youth leader Bhattarai has suggested to Prime Minister Oli to exercise flexibility to save party unity. However, Oli has maintained that his decision to appoint former Maoist Center leaders as the party’s Central Committee members and reshuffling the party responsibilities won’t change.
Although the lawmakers close to the Nepal-led faction have agreed to furnish clarification to Oli within the stipulated deadline, Chairman Oli has said in public that they will all face action if they continue with the parallel activities within the party. A Standing Committee meeting of the Nepal-led faction of the party is currently underway to forge their strategy to deal with Oli’s possible move to relieve them of the post of party lawmaker.
The Nepal-led faction is mulling to knock the doors of the Supreme Court to preempt the possible action to be taken by Chairman Oli against them. Leaders close to the Nepal-led faction said they are planning to seek apex court intervention to stop Oli from taking any action against them just because they have carried out parallel activities after Chairman Oli took arbitrary decisions against the verdict given earlier by it.
There are a total 121 lawmakers of the UML in the federal parliament. Although the Nepal-led faction initially had a total of 37 lawmakers in the federal parliament, many of them have already chosen to be part of the Oli-led faction.
Many in the party believe that Oli’s preparation to relieve all lawmakers close to the Nepal-led faction from their position is to avoid their possible attempt to cross the floor in parliament and topple his government. Earlier, four UML lawmakers close to the Nepal-led faction had voted against the UML’s chief ministerial candidate close to Oli in the Karnali Province.