Nepal's ruling party leaders fail to negotiate power-sharing deal between Oli and Prachanda

KATHMANDUUpdated: Jul 29, 2020, 07:14 AM IST

Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' (left) and Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. Photograph:(PTI)

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Prachanda and senior party leader Jhalanath Khanal then went to meet Oli only to return to the meeting hall after the latter told them to do whatever they wished to, the paper said.

Nepal's ruling communist party leaders on Tuesday once again failed to negotiate a power-sharing deal between Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and executive chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', who convened a meeting of the powerful Standing Committee despite the former's decision to postpone it.

Prachanda and some senior leaders reached the Prime Minister's official residence at Baluwatar at around 11 am for the scheduled meeting of the 45-member Standing Committee of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to iron out the differences between the two warring factions.

However, Prime Minister's press advisor Surya Thapa said the meeting was postponed.

But Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member, said the meeting would be held at any cost, even if Prime Minister Oli refused to attend, the Kathmandu Post reported.

Prachanda and senior party leader Jhalanath Khanal then went to meet Oli only to return to the meeting hall after the latter told them to do whatever they wished to, the paper said.

At the meeting hall, Prachanda briefed the Standing Committee members about his talks with Oli.

The Standing Committee members close to Oli did not attend the unilateral meeting convened by Prachanda.

However, 29 Standing Committee members and two invitees were present at the meeting, which started at around 3:00 pm and lasted for one hour, party sources said.

Standing Committee member Ganesh Shah said the meeting was postponed as the two leaders need more time for informal consultations to sort out their differences.

The Standing Committee meetings have been postponed for nine times since June 24.

"It was against the party statute and inappropriate for PM Oli to postpone the meeting unilaterally," Party spokesperson Narayankaji Shrestha told reporters.

"Today's meeting did not discuss the party's agenda but it decided to hand over the responsibility of convening another Standing Committee meeting to party chairman Prachanda after consulting with the prime minister," he said.

Those who spoke on the occasion criticised Prime Minister Oli, according to a member of the Standing Committee.

On Wednesday last, a Standing Committee meeting was briefly held at the Prime Minister's official residence.

However, the prime minister did not attend the meeting.

Subsequently, the party decided to convene another meeting a week later, on July 28, to review its activities, the government's performance, finalising division of work among party's cadres and leaders, and proposed general convention among other issues.

During Tuesday's meeting, NCP Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam floated a 'middle path' solution to resolve the conflict between Prime Minister Oli and Chairman Prachanda.

Gautam proposed that Oli be allowed to stay as prime minister for the remaining term of the House of Representatives (HoR), that is, two-and-a-half years, and chairman of the party until the unity general convention that Oli has proposed to hold by mid-December.

Similarly, Prachanda should be given the responsibility as the party's Chairman with all executive powers until the unity general convention of the NCP is held.

Gautam also proposed that Oli be allowed to run the government independently even though the Chairman will have all executive powers.

He, however, proposed holding consultation in the party before taking any decisions on issues of national and international importance.

The proposal also include making fixed criteria for the promotion and transfer of security officials and bureaucrats; reshuffling the Cabinet on the basis of the suggestions and consultation of the party's central secretariat; holding consultation within the party's Secretariat prior to unveiling of the government's policies and programmes and hosting party's official meeting at its central office.

Gautam also proposed holding all party meetings in its central office rather than at the official residence of the prime minister.

Chairman Prachanda on the occasion asked the members not to take any untoward step which could harm the party.

"The party has reached a crucial phase," he said.

A bitter internal feud has been brewing in the ruling NCP since the last few weeks after top party leaders, including Prachanda, demanded Oli's resignation, saying his recent anti-India remarks were "neither politically correct nor diplomatically appropriate."

They are also against Oli's autocratic style of functioning.

The differences grew further after Oli said that some of the ruling party leaders are aligning with the southern neighbour to remove him from power after his government issued a new political map incorporating three Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura.

Prachanda on Monday last week said efforts were going on to resolve the intra-party differences and ruled out an early general convention of the party as proposed by embattled Prime Minister Oli.

Oli and Prachanda have held at least eight meetings in recent weeks to sort out the differences between them.

But, as the Prime Minister did not accept the condition of a one-man-one-post, the talks failed.

Oli has refused to give up his post as prime minister as well as a co-chairman of the NCP.