Kathmandu, April 30
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s offer to make Madhav Kumar Nepal the third co-chair of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and Bamdev Gautam the new prime minister has created ripples in the party, but it is not yet clear whether the PM, who made the offer in a bid to end the bonhomie between Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, will succeed.
The Dahal and Nepal factions have been pressuring the PM to quit at least one post — party co-chair or the prime minister. Oli had told the party Secretariat meeting that he would tender his resignation from the post of prime minister after the threat of coronavirus pandemic subsided, paving the way for ‘Gautam to become the new PM’.
Standing Committee member Raghuji Pant, who is close to Nepal, told THT that Nepal was not keen on Oli’s offer to make him the third chair, as its sole motive was to expose and weaken him. “I am for upholding the rule of law within the party and I am not for fulfilling my political ambitions through unfair means,” Pant quoted Nepal as saying.
Pant said Gautam had told the PM yesterday that he should resign as PM and let the party decide who should be the new prime minister. Pant said the PM’s offer was only a bid to weaken the Dahal and Nepal factions that had sought his resignation from either the post of party co-chair or the prime minister. Oli’s decision to bring two controversial ordinances recently has riled NCP leaders. Oli has fallen into minority in the party’s Secretariat, Standing Committee and Central Committee after Nepal, Gautam and Jhalanath Khanal sided with Dahal. Party leaders said Oli didn’t have majority even in the parliamentary party.
Another Standing Committee member Mani Thapa, who is close to Dahal, told THT that Oli’s offer to Gautam might help him avert the political crisis that threatened to dislodge him from power. The proposal to make Gautam the PM was first floated by Dahal so it would be difficult for Dahal to oppose it now or else Gautam could switch sides, Thapa argued.
Standing Committee member Mukunda Neupane, who is close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, said Oli’s assurance to make Gautam the new PM was not credible, as the chapter had already closed. He said Oli had no power to make anybody the party’s third chairperson and only the party’s Central Committee had that power.
Another Standing Committee member Ganesh Shah said none of the arguments of the factions led by Oli, Dahal or Nepal held water.
“At a time when we are dealing with COVID-19 pandemic, the party should not change its prime minister. Nor should the PM offer anyone party’s chair,” he said, adding the number of chairs would go against the spirit of unity between former CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist Centre. “If the party leaders decide to go for third co-chair, then that could give rise to demand for more co-chairpersons in the party,” Shah added. Gautam could not be contacted for comments.
Oli is likely to face tough questions from NCP leaders on May 2 when the party’s Secretariat meets.