Sunday, 25 February, 2024

UML Suffers Under Oli

UML Suffers Under Oli

Narayan Upadhyay

After a five-party opposition alliance dislodged him from power, CPN-UML party chairman KP Sharma Oli has hurled expletives towards his bete noir in the party, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, whom he called a traitor, a complicit in regression and a criminal who has no place in his party. Oli sees Nepal as the chief designer for toppling him. Oli's remarks show he has deep-seated animosity towards Nepal. But UML leader Nepal and his adherents said they took 'drastic steps' to oust his party chair from the PM's post after the latter exhibited an authoritararian and regressive attitude by dissolving the Lower House twice within six months by disrespecting the Supreme Court's verdict, constitution and democratic values.'
In the wake of deepening rivalry between Oli and Nepal, a chunk of UML leaders are still burning the midnight oil to keep the party's unity intact. A taskforce representing both feuding sides has brought forth its 10-point solution to the party's unity. Youth leaders have given continuity to their parleys so that the party would not go through a vertical division. In the meantime, many UML functionaries believe that the party will not break. This is because no leader, neither Oli nor Nepal, wants to carry the tag of being a party splitter.
Despite all attempts by the youth and second rung leaders to bring the warring leaders closer, Oli’s off-the-cuff remarks push them back to square one. Oli's angry outbursts after his downfall have only exacerbated matters pertaining to party unity. Oli has denied dissident leader Nepal the UML co-chair position having all the power and authority. It has only sent dissidents adrift.  

Authoritative tendency
It would serve the people better if they learned that haughty Oli and his stooges helped to create a chasm in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) after Oli reneged on his commitments to hand power to Prachanda after he completed two-and-a-half years in power. Once he took the helm, he nudged aside UML leaders like Nepal, Jhalnath Khanal, Bam Dev Gautam and many senior leaders. His authoritative tendency only helped brew searing anger among these leaders, who later did their best to chase him away from power.
As party chair, Oli must have taken care of the NCP-led government and allowed it to serve a full term. As party chair, it was his obligation to see the then NCP and the government through uncharted waters. However, that was not to be. The reason for this was his soft-quoted arrogance and autocratic nature, which drove him to disrespect the aspirations of party comrades. As a result, some of his UML men, led by leader Nepal, engineered Oli's ruin by siding with the opposition alliance, headed by the Nepali Congress. Because of his unconstitutional act to dissolve the House twice, Oli was termed an authoritararian and regressive leader who infringed on the essence of the constitution and put federalism and secularism at risk.
In the meantime, the adversaries charged Oli with corruption during his three-and-a-half year tenure. Many accused his Health Minister of embezzling state funds while buying health materials after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. During his tenure, the then Communications Minister had to resign after he demanded bribes from an intermediary for setting up a security printing press. They also blamed Oli for benefitting from specific corporate companies, such as the Yeti and a few others.
The former PM had earlier insisted that he had a zero tolerance towards corruption, and he would not look at the face of a corrupt person. However, he drew public ire for defending many corrupt ones who were closer to him. His stance on corruption only spoiled his public image as many leaders of his own party protested heavily against Oli for defending the corrupt ones.
After he felt that his position in the government and in the party was weakening, he pursued to win support from many Nepalis by bringing out a new Nepali map incorporating Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulek. He, however, failed to get back the same land, encroached by Indians, back to Nepal's ownership. The map was a political stunt for Oli to deviate the people and opponents’ attention from intra-party bickering to nationalism. He must have thought raising a nationalist plank would save his position for full term.
The former PM has come under fire from public, media and political leaders for his big promises, which failed to materialise. His promise to bring rail from China, start Nepal's own shipping service and supply gas to every household came a cropper that only heightened his unpopularity among the masses. His claims that Lord Rama belonged to Nepal and Lord Rama's kingdom Ayodhya was in Madi of Chitwan made him a laughingstock among many Nepalis and Indian Hindus. These false assurances and misleading claims indicate towards Oli's eccentric quality that did not serve adequately for his political well-being.

Innate arrogance
All the unsavoury events are the fallout of an innate arrogance in Oli. Meanwhile, his dictatorial and disruptive nature was to be blamed for the debacle of his government as well as for the troubles in the UML. He is dead against not allowing leader Nepal possessing authority on par with him.
It is now evident that the UML under Oli’s leadership will have trouble remaining united. His presence as party chief will only invite relentless trouble in the party, which may cause unfathomable harm to the party’s unity. The UML and the communist movement in the county can advance successfully if Oli steps down as party chair. The new leadership that replaces Oli must run the party democratically, seeking consensus from other party members so that the party would not face dilemma and disruption as Oli is witnessing owing to his arbitrary and whimsical nature.

(Upadhyay is Managing Editor at TRN.