KATHMANDU, Oct 14: An intra-party dispute which surfaced this week in the Karnali Provincial Committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), seeking the overthrow of Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, has finally been settled, at least for now.
The chief minister was in soup after a group of provincial lawmakers including Yam Lal Kadel put forth a motion of no confidence at the party’s parliamentary party office on Sunday, accusing CM Shahi of failing to work effectively. However, the motion was yet to be registered at the provincial assembly secretariat. The ruling NCP has 33 lawmakers in the 40-member provincial assembly.
But CM Shahi has managed to save his post following two developments. One, the provincial lawmakers of the NCP stepped back apparently following an intervention by the party’s senior leaders including Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Two, a new power sharing deal was reached between CM Shahi, who is also the leader of the NCP in the provincial assembly, and his opponents at the party’s provincial committee.
A meeting of the NCP’s parliamentary party of the provincial committee which took place on Tuesday afternoon failed to further discuss the motion as it could not garner the majority votes. In the meeting, the dissenting provincial lawmakers who earlier brought the no confidence motion against CM Shahi remained absent.
According to leaders, the Karnali Province government will now be reshuffled soon and some of the dissenting lawmakers close to the Nepal and Oli factions will be inducted as ministers.
In a bid to douse the fire, CM Shahi appointed Kurma Raj Shahi as the whip of the party’s parliamentary party in Karnali on Tuesday. Shahi is a leader close to Madhav Kumar Nepal. Earlier on Monday, Shahi appointed Sita Kumari Nepali as the chief whip of the party’s provincial committee.
CM Shahi, who is one of the confidants of NCP Executive Chairperson Dahal, sought help from the party’s leadership to thwart the motion so that he can continue staying in power.
Accordingly, Dahal lobbied for saving Shahi’s post as the chief minister. In his meetings with the other chairperson of the party, KP Sharma Oli, and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal on Monday and Tuesday, Dahal urged them to instruct the provincial leaders of the NCP to stop the motion tabled against CM Shahi.
Niraj Acharya, a leader close to senior leader Nepal, also reached Karnali on Monday to resolve the crisis in the party’s provincial committee.
On behalf of PM Oli, deputy leader of the party’s parliamentary party in the federal parliament, Subhas Nembang telephoned the dissenting lawmakers and urged them to step back on Tuesday morning.
Talking to Republica, leader Nembang said that he spoke to the dissident provincial lawmakers including Yam Lal Kadel and told them to settle the dispute through consensus.
“As we successfully managed the crisis at the party’s top level that had emerged a few months ago, let’s not engage in a similar dispute at the provincial level which only leads to another type of bitterness in the party. This is not a right time to engage in unnecessary disputes which put the party’s ongoing unification at risk,” Nembang shared what he told the lawmakers over the phone.
Although the Dahal faction which lobbied to save CM Shahi’s post speculated that PM Oli and senior leader Nepal had a role behind the curtain in bringing the motion against the chief minister, leader Nembang, who is close to Oli, rebuffed such allegations adding that PM Oli was not aware of such developments in advance.
“Prime Minister Oli had no such role in bringing tension in the party’s Karnali provincial committee at all. Instead, in a recent Cabinet meeting, Oli told his colleagues that he was not aware of such abrupt moves taken by the provincial lawmakers against CM Shahi,” Nembang added.
Meanwhile, the Dahal faction has taken it as a victory saying that it has been able to defeat forces who acted against the party’s unity in the provincial committee of the party.
Ganga Dahal, personal secretary to NCP’s Executive Chairperson Dahal, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon that dirty politics that tried to raise its head in Karnali Province has been eventually failed. “Congratulations to all the comrades for playing a positive role in realizing the dream of party leadership to keep the party unity intact,” Ganga, who is also the daughter of Dahal, said.
Kadel-Shahi ego tussle
The intra-party dispute within the NCP’s provincial committee surfaced also due to the personal tussle between CM Shahi, the leader from the then CPN (Maoist Centre) led by Dahal and Kadel, a leader who is supposed to be backed by PM Oli.
Kadel was one of the aspirants for the post of chief minister when the country held the provincial elections in 2017 but he was forced to give up his desire as the two communist parties forged their electoral alliance ahead of the elections, and agreed on the name of Shahi as the chief minister. If Shahi were forced to step down now, Kadel would have become the chief minister. Shahi and Kadel were not on good terms since the two left-wing parties forged an electoral alliance, and went for the party merger in June 2018.