Intra-party differences have widened in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), especially between party chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and another party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Efforts are being made to settle the differences between the two NCP chairmen, PM Oli and Prachanda.
In this regard, the party chairs have been holding a series of talks to iron out the deepening intra-party rift. The Standing Committee meeting of the party has reached a deadlock and several rounds of meetings held between PM Oli and Prachanda’ have ended inconclusively.
In this backdrop, Gopal Khanal and Arpana Adhikari of The Rising Nepal talked to Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwor Pokhrel, focusing on the differences between the two factions of the party. Excerpts:
All is not well in the ruling party now. Despite forming a nearly two-thirds majority government under party chair KP Sharma Oli, the top leaders have now been attacking the government as if they were opposition leaders. As a leader of the party and Deputy Prime Minister, how have you taken this situation?
What chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and some other senior leaders are doing is very disgraceful. If there are intra-party disputes, then they can be resolved internally through dialogue. If there has some shortcomings then they should be corrected. But it is very depressing to see how some senior party leaders have been publicly attacking the government and the Prime Minister. This is not good for the party unity and the movements led by the party, Nepali society and the whole nation.
During the unification of the two parties, being a chair of the erstwhile CPN-UML KP Sharma Oli and Chairman of the erstwhile CPN-(Maoists) centre, had signed the terms of agreement of the unification and formed NCP by dissolving their respective parties.
During the unification, we have agreed to conduct the unity general convention based on agreement. And the foundation of this agreement will be the understanding between the chairmen duo.
The party should have moved ahead by implementing the terms of agreement of the unification. The party’s interim law and directives also support this notion. At the time of unification, chairmen PM Oli and Prachanda played an institutional role, and we all accepted that. Until the unity general convention, the party should move ahead as per the foundation of agreement reached between the two chairmen. This is the road map ahead.
But lately, a wrong trend is developingin the party. Prior to sitting for talks with chairman PM Oli, Prachanda held a meeting with the leaders close to his faction and came to meet PM Oli after making his position. Such act is against the agreement made during the unification.
To properly run the party, there should be an understanding between the two chairmen. If they failed to reach consensus in any issue, then some senior leaders accepted by both chairs, can join the talk to create a favourable environment to sort out their differences. If there are problems operating the government and the party, then this should beresolved through dialogues.
Lately, chairman Prachanda and leaders close to his faction held a meeting with the editors to discuss the internal disputes of the party and accused PM Oli of not being able to run the government properly and trying to damage the image of the party. How have you taken this move?
Journalists themselves should analyse this situation. During the 450-member Central Committee meeting in January this year, chairman Prachanda presented a political report, mainly prepared by him. The report has mentioned seven remarkable works accomplished by the government led by PM Oli. And the report was endorsed unanimously by the meeting. Following that PM Oli underwent the kidney transplant and immediately after that he has been busy working in the COVID-19 response. Six months after Prachanda presented the political report, he has been accusing the government of not being able to function efficiently. I don’t understand how this was possible and what is the motive behind this? This is an insult to the central committee meeting and the political report which was endorsed by the committee.
Likewise, the party has set up seven agendas to be discoursed in the recent Standing Committee meeting. The meeting was focused on the issue of border dispute but suddenly chairman Prachanda diverted the agenda and demanded PM Oli’s resignation from the posts of both the party chair and Prime Minister. If he had to raise this agenda, then he should have institutionalised the agenda first. And other agendas of SC meeting were overlooked. The meeting diverted on other issues and worsened the situation, which got unnecessary publicity. And unfortunately, this has deviated the whole movement and party cadres. The party unity should be kept intact on the foundation of the party unification.
Are they declaring a war by asking journalists close to their faction to prepare for the worst? They need to be careful of its consequences. This may turn counter-productive to the party unity. Such wrongful act is unacceptable.
During the media briefing, four leaders of Prachanda’s faction have asked the media persons to make people understand that their main concern is not to gain power but the compliance of proper procedures while running the NCP. What do you have to say in this regard?
This is very hilarious. Prachanda is now a chairman of the unified party because he was leading the erstwhile CPN-Maoist (Centre). And PM Oli is the chairman of the NCP because he was nominated by the general convention of the erstwhile CPN-UML. No one can topple them down from the post. This will be against the party unity. Anyone who is in favour of party unity can never talk such thing. The unity general convention will decide who the next chairman of the party will be. Till then no one can topple down them from the post. This agenda was forwarded by the corrupt mentality.
Furthermore, the central committee had also unanimously ratified the remarkable works done by this government. And now what is the logic and motive behind toppling down the leader who had accomplished such a remarkable work? What crime has PM Oli committed? This is unnatural and the issue is raised with an ill intention. If the government has some shortcoming then it should have been asked to correct it. But they are demanding that PM Oli should resign from both posts. Those who are now asking the PMs’s resignation has no moral ground to make such demand. I am not personally favouring the Prime Minister, but this is morally, legally and politically shameful.
During the time of election, we have promised people that the KP Oli will lead the government. Even the erstwhile CPN-Maoist had accepted this during the 2017 election. And secondly, PM Oli was unanimously elected by the parliamentary party. On this ground, he is in this position. And is it politically and legally correct to topple down the Prime Minister from the meeting of one committee?
They have been claiming that it was a matter of party procedure. How lawful it is to unseat the prime minister from a meeting? So let’s stop this power tussle. Let’s make preparation for the unity general convention that is scheduled for April next year.
It is learnt that some leaders in the Standing Committee meeting demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister. Later, the leaders from the erstwhile CPN-Maoist denied this claiming this was not the agenda of the Standing Committee. What had happened exactly?
It is true. The issue was not set as an agenda for the meeting. It was raised illegally with a wrong intention.
Looking at the present political scenario, some leaders from the former CPN-UML are backing Prachanda and some leaders of former Maoists seem satisfied with the PM Oli’s work and are against the idea of unseating PM Oli. How to you perceive this?
Now we have to rise above from the mentality of former CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist. We should decide our stand on the basis of quality, ideology and ability of the leaders.
Now, the country is grappling with the Coronavirus scourge. This is not the right time to engage in political wrangling. This is the time for all political parties and leaders to stand united against the ongoing problems. Any attempts from anywhere to weaken the party unity will hurt the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The government has left no stone unturned in its fight against the pandemic. On the other hand, we have accomplished the most important responsibility in the history of the country.
I have heard that some people are claiming that anyone could publish the new map. But the feeling of nationalism, unity and solidarity shown by all the political parties during the release of new political map and endorsing the constitution amendment proposal for the purpose was unique and unprecedented.
This exceptional unity in the parliament was achieved under the leadership of PM Oli and all political parties have also supported PM Oli on this. And is it right to punish PM Oli for accomplishing such a historic work? So I would like to ask all the party leaders not to raise the illegal and non-political issues.
It is learnt that the chairmen duo had recently reached a consensus but again the difference between the two chairmen widened. Some leaders have been claiming that issues should be resolved from the central committee meeting. What do you think what will be the outlet to resolve this issue?
Being a Secretariat member, I couldn’t understand this. On July 18, PM Oli and Prachanda had a meeting in the presence of some party leaders. They reached a consensus and afterward the secretariat meeting was held. During the meeting, both chairmen discussed ways to resolve the problem. They agreed to call early general convention and lawfully change the party leadership. I was very happy that day. Even Bam Dev had agreed to pass the proposal unanimously by the secretariat meeting on July 19 and called the Standing Committee meeting on July 20.
I have heard after the Secretariat meeting, Prachanda suggested PM Oli to visit the President. Later, you know how the issue was publicised. Then an agreement reached between the two chairmen came to an end. And morally Prachanda should answer what is the motive behind this. Then Prachada showed no interest to hold the Secretariat meeting on July 19.
Do you agree with the six-point proposal floated by vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam to save the NCP from imminent split?
We have not discussed the issue in any committee. But personally I find this positive. He is an experienced leader and this proposal was prepared on the basis of his experience. I know, he also has some disagreement with the PM and the party this time, he is more concerned to keep the party unity intact and wants to follow the proper procedure while running the party. And the party cadres have also positively perceived this proposal.
Was it only a coincidence that some party leaders of the ruling NCP and intellectual discourse and media reports from New Delhi are sharing the same views to dislodge PM Oli from his post?
Even I don’t understand this. This intra-party rift emerged just a few weeks after PM Oli and all political parties changed Nepal’s political map by incorporating Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura as part of its territory, which was followed by a constitutional amendment to adopt the new map in its national emblem.
Nobody should think they will succeed in dislodging PM Oli, because PM Oli is not just an individual, he is an institution. PM’s stepping down from both posts will be against the people’s mandate and sovereignty of the country.
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