Nepal Communist Party’s top panel met at PM Oli’s house. He was AWOL
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli who pushed through the country’s new political map in an effort to consolidate his position in Nepal Communist Party, or NCP, and the government is coming under intense pressure from within to quit one of his two posts. PM Oli is also one of the NCP’s two chairpersons, a post that he shares with his arch rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda.
PM Oli on Friday absented himself from the meeting of the NCP’s powerful standing committee though the party panel was meeting at his official residence. PM Oli had sent word to the panel that he would join them later but never turned up, according to reports in the Kathmandu media.
The standing committee meetings were initially scheduled to begin on May 7 but Oli, who is severely short of support within the 44-member panel, had put them off.
Kathmandu watchers in Delhi say he had expected the new political map rushed through parliament this month to project himself as one prime minister who stood up to its giant neighbour to shield him from pressure from within. That didn’t appear to be happening when PM Oli attended the first meeting of the standing committee on Thursday. Prachanda, reports in the Nepal media suggest, was merciless in his criticism.
Prachanda, according to a report in The Kathmandu Post, had expressed regret for a November pact that agreed to let Oli run the government for five years while he leads the party as executive chair. “Either we have to part ways or we need to mend ways… Since parting is not possible, we need to mend our ways, for which we must be ready to sacrifice,” Prachanda said, according to the Post.
PM Oli, who has already been a target of attacks for his government’s handling of th Covid-19 pandemic, did mount a counter attack at Thursday’s meeting. But on Friday, PM Oli, as one Nepal newspaper headlined its report, decided to “play hooky”.
“A chairman avoiding his own party’s meeting is disgraceful. He should have listened to his party leaders,” Gokarna Bista, a Standing Committee member who is counted in Prachanda’s camp said, according to the Post.
“Many leaders are preparing to seek Oli’s resignation as a majority of the party feels that Oli cannot be trusted to run the government anymore,” said Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member also close to Dahal, told the newspaper.
PM Oli, according to reports, had hoped to pin down the rival camp with a new political map that depicts Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura that have been controlled by India as part of Nepalese territory. It did get complete support from parliamentarians because no one wanted to be seen to be going against the country’s territorial integrity. But at NCP’s meeting on Friday, there were also suggestions that the Oli government should have handled the entire row better.
The Post quoted two NCP members as saying that the Oli government was criticised for not doing adequate homework to hold talks with India, failing to cultivate alternative lines of communication with New Delhi, and also failing to propagate Nepal’s claim to its lands on national and international platforms.