Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli appeared to have lost ground Tuesday in a bitter turf war after majority members of the ruling party’s standing committee, angry over his last-minute cancellation of yet another meeting of the panel, met informally to demand his resignation. Should Oli not resign, he will be offered a six-point working arrangement, devised by one of the senior members. It clips his wings and gives the ruling Nepal Communist Party and rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ a greater say in the functioning of the government.
This was the seventh time since the start of the power tussle in Kathmandu that the standing committee, the key decision-making body of the NCP, was not allowed to convene. Oli and Prachanda, a former Prime Minister, are co-chairpersons of the NCP.
Of the committee’s 44 members, 29 met informally after Oli ordered cancellation of the meeting Tuesday morning.
Minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting at 11 am, Surya Thapa, press advisor to the Prime Minister, tweeted that the meeting stood cancelled because there were some issues still to be discussed and settled between the two chairpersons.
By then, committee members were already on their way to the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar, the venue for the meeting. “It was not proper on the part of Prime Minister Oli to have called off the meeting for which a date had been fixed by the committee,” Narayan Kaji Shrestha, spokesperson of the NCP told media persons after the informal assembly of the members.
He said Prachanda has been asked to hold discussions with Oli and fix another date for the meeting, keeping in mind “party unity and due process”.
Oli has been making every effort to defer the meeting and not allow it to adopt any formal resolution since majority members have been seeking his resignation from the posts of party chairperson and Prime Minister.
Five members, including cabinet ministers Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Lekhraj Bhatta, stayed away from the informal meeting, raising hopes in the Oli camp of denting Prachanda’s support base.
A senior NCP leader said Oli made it clear to dissidents that the leadership issue should be left to the party Congress in November-December and no decision should be taken now.
It is learnt that after Oli called off the meeting, Prachanda and Jhala Nath Khanal, also a former Prime Minister, asked him to reconsider. When Oli remained unmoved, members got agitated and wanted to censure him for “insulting” them. Prachanda and Madhav Nepal, another former Prime Minister, asked members to calm down. Bamdev Gautam, vice-chairman and a senior member, put forward a six-point settlement formula which, among other things, suggested that Oli be allowed to remain PM for the remaining half term of the current Parliament while Prachanda be given sole executive powers of the party organisation though Oli could continue as chairperson.
Gautam suggested that while the cabinet should be allowed to work without interference, it must consult the party on major policy issues, appointments to constitutional bodies and promotion of senior civilian and security officials.
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