Loyalists defend Oli as Nepal brews discontent

Sunday, September 30th, 2018 | | Politics

Growing discontent within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), particularly over the decisions taken by the joint leadership of KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has come to the fore. Dissatisfied with the way the party is led, a faction of party leaders has started criticising the government.

On Friday, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal organised a tea reception for the party’s Standing Committee members in Kathmandu, where he expressed serious reservations over the activities of the party leadership.

Factional leaders are increasingly miffed at Prime Minister Oli over his monopoly in running the party and the government. “He [Nepal] sought suggestions on how to move ahead. The party’s Standing Committee has not met for long,” said a leader who attended the tea reception.

Nepal has also registered his objections at the party to the secretariat’s unilateral decision of appointing provincial leaders. He submitted his note to party General Secretary Bishnu Poudel on Friday, claiming that the decision to select the leadership of the provincial committees was made while he was out of the country. He would not accept the decision taken by flouting the party procedure.

Nepal, who strongly criticised the government at the House of Representatives on Thursday, also appeared critical of the government’s plan to build an international airport at Nijgadh, Bara, which has already invited controversy over the plan to fell trees without preparing the detailed project report (DPR).

At the meeting of the parliamentary International Relations Committee on Friday, Nepal spoke against building a settlement close to the area at the cost of millions of trees.

The tea reception did not go well with the Oli camp. Leaders close to Oli have reacted strongly against the leaders who criticised the government. They have spoken of attempts to “topple” the Oli-led government and to seek alternatives to it.

“Downfall of some people begins when they start consulting foreigners to topple their own people,” Prime Minister Oli’s Chief Advisor Bishnu Rimal tweeted.

Rajan Bhattarai, foreign affairs advisor to Oli during his first term as PM two years ago, said in a tweet on Saturday morning that seeking the government’s alternative citing problems in the social sector and development works failing to take momentum was fishing in troubled waters.

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa on Saturday said there were conspiracies to topple the government by attacking it from all directions. He, however, did not name the “conspirators”.

“This government is focused on curbing corruption, and taking action against rapists and smugglers. So there are conspiracies to topple it,” Thapa said, addressing a function in Gulmi.

Talking to the post, Bhattarai clarified that his tweet was not aimed at any party leaders but at the “forces trying to raise their head even after being terribly defeated by the people’s verdict”.

However, leaders close to Nepal claimed that the statements of Rimal and Bhattarai were intended to divert the issue of “unilateral” decisions of the party leadership. “Leader Nepal has not questioned the government but raised internal issues of discontent within the party,” said Bishnu Rijal, a central committee member close to Madhav Nepal.

Meanwhile, responding to Nepal’s statements to Parliament and at the tea reception, Prime Minister Oli, who is in New York, has defended the party secretariat’s decision. In an interview with New York-based Nepali journalist Surya Thapa, Oli said an insignificant and unnatural situation was being created. “The decision taken by the party secretariat was absolutely correct,” he said.

Leaders close to Nepal have demanded meetings of the Standing Committee and the Central Committee at the earliest. They have objected that major decisions of the party were being taken by the party secretariat instead. “Even when the secretariat meeting is called, the two top leaders—Oli and Dahal—are tasked with taking the final decision,” they said.