Nepal Comminist Party (NCP) Standing Committee meet: PM plays hooky

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KATHMANDU, JUNE 26

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who was target of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s jibes on the first day of the party’s Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, and is under pressure from leaders of the party to give up either the PM or the party co-chair’s post, today chose to stay away from the meeting though it was held in his official residence in Baluwatar.

Party Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told THT that the PM sent a message through party General Secretary Bishnu Paudel that he had a busy schedule and he would join the meeting after a while, but he didn’t turn up. Standing Committee member Asta Laxmi Shakya said the PM’s decision not to attend the meeting reflected poor judgment on his part. “How can the PM ignore such an important meeting that was discussing country’s border and sovereignty issues and will also dwell on Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Nepal compact?” she wondered.

The Standing Committee is meeting weeks after leaders close to Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal demanded to call the meeting immediately.

The PM agreed for the meeting after rival faction leaders pressed him for it.

Party Secretariat had called the Standing Committee meeting on May 13, but it had to be put off at the PM’s instance.

In recent weeks, the PM had also skipped the party’s Secretariat meeting called to discuss Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement signed between Nepal and USA. Oli wants the Parliament to ratify the MCC agreement while the rival faction wants it to be ratified only after some amendments to the agreement.

A Standing Committee member, who was present in today’s meeting, said the PM might have skipped the meeting to avoid tough questions from Standing Committee members on his handling of the COVID-19 crisis and some unilateral decisions he took recently, including IoM dean’s appointment, without taking the party into confidence.

“During the Central Committee meeting, he had appeared on the first and the last day of the meeting. He might do the same this time too,” the member said.

He added that leaders close to Dahal and Nepal wanted him to quit one of the two posts he held, but were gingerly as their move could potentially divide the party. The source said that the government’s decision to include Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani in the country’s map had emboldened the PM.

Moreover, Nepal and Dahal have not yet reached an understanding on who should lead the government in case Oli is forced to quit as the PM, the source added.

Oli is in minority in the 45-member Standing Committee.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 27, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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