July 5, 2020 12:38:13 am
With the chorus for his resignation growing within the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli dragged in President Bidhya Devi Bhandari into the row Saturday, claiming there was a “larger conspiracy” to dislodge not just him but also the President, and that he would take stern measures to counter the threat.
Shortly after he met Bhandari for about 50 minutes in the evening, Oli convened a meeting of ministers, office bearers of the party and secretariat members, asking them to choose whether they are with him or those opposed to him.
“I have all along stood for party unity and had no problem in handing executive powers to party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), but ignoring all that, there is a conspiracy to dislodge me and the President from our posts,” Oli was quoted by one of those present at the meeting.
He did not mention India when he spoke of a “conspiracy” – he did that a week ago, setting off a political firestorm in Kathmandu – but maintained he was being targeted, along with President Bhandari, because of his stand on the border issue.
Rival Prachanda held a parallel meeting at his residence. The apprehension in his camp is that the Prime Minister and President may go in for “measures to save themselves”.
Last month, Oli steered a constitution amendment Bill to get parliamentary sanction for Nepal’s new map that includes three territories with India (Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura). He later claimed that India and a section of the leaders in Kathmandu were plotting to remove him from power.
On July 2, Oli refused to yield to party pressure to step down, and got both Houses of Parliament prorogued to ward off threats to his continuance in office. The Cabinet recommendation to end the sessions was immediately accepted by the President.
At the meeting Saturday, Oli indicated that he may drop ministers from the rival camp. He was quoted saying “may be some of us will not be seeing each other”.
There is speculation that he may bring in ordinance to tweak a law that will allow him to split the ruling party.
A meeting of the standing committee, scheduled for Saturday morning, was deferred until Monday to give time for back channel moves to keep the party intact.
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