The majority of CPN secretariat members have decided to urge Chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli for secretariat meeting.
The informal secretariat meeting called by Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal at the party's central office in Dhumbarahi Friday has decided to meet PM Oli and urge him to convene secretariat meeting, according to Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
Senior Leaders Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhav Nepal, Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam and Shrestha attended the meeting along with Dahal.
Shrestha said Dahal briefed the members in the meeting that Oli threatened on Thursday that a formal secretariat meeting called by Dahal would be the starting point on announcement of split. He added that Oli did not agree for calling secretariat meeting despite repeatedly being urged by Dahal.
"We repeatedly put proposals for running the party in accordance to norms and to move the government works more effectively. But Chairman Oli did not give consent for meeting until yesterday," Shrestha said after the meeting.
Dahal, therefore, called the informal meeting of nine-strong secretariat on Thursday and invited all members. But four including Chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli, Deputy PM Ishwore Pokharel, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and General Secretary and Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel did not attend the meeting.
Shrestha claimed that the informal meeting was convened with consent of Oli. "The informal meeting was convened with consent of Chairman Oli. Chairman Oli had told Dahal yesterday itself that he will not be able to attend the meeting," Shrestha revealed.
The three ministers, two of whom are from Oli faction, have cited work at their respective ministries for not attending the meeting. Thapa, who is a former Maoist leader, has tried to remain neutral in the internal dispute stretching back to last year and rarely attended factional meetings even as the Dahal camp count Thapa to be with the camp.
The informal meeting was called to discuss the current crisis in the ruling party. Oli has adopted a confrontational tone and, Dahal claims that he proposed to even split the party on Sunday.
Ruling CPN is again mired in internal dispute with Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal allying against Oli.
Oli, meanwhile, has vowed to swat away conspiracies against him by those inside the ruling party.
Speaking at the start of Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Oli accused party leaders of conspiring against him in a way to invite instability. "There have been different kinds of maneuvers in Koteshwore. Different kinds of maneuvers about confidence and no confidence are being done," a minister quoted Oli as saying. "I am ready to face those maneuvers."
His broadside was aimed at the legal consultation by fellow Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Senior Leader Madhav Kumar Nepal held in Paris Danda earlier on the day.
A party source confided that the two leaders held discussion with legal professionals and leaders with legal background at the party office in Paris Danda on Thursday but the name of participants have yet to be revealed.
"Discussion has been held about the steps that PM Oli can take," a participant in the discussion told Setopati. "General discussion about the legal and Constitutional crisis the steps PM Oli can take in the current situation will invite."
The Dahal-Nepal faction fears, and PM Oli has been almost explicitly threatening, that he will split the party if the Dahal-Nepal faction tries to oust him from Baluwatar by bringing ordinance even if he fails to muster 40 percent in both the central committee and the parliamentary party as required by the current laws.
The ruling party is again facing a grave crisis with Dahal claiming that PM Oli has proposed to split the ruling party even as Oli is in minority in parliamentary party, secretariat, standing committee and central committee.
Dahal said that Oli made the proposal to split during their meeting at Baluwatar on Saturday while briefing the majority of secretariat members at his residence in Khumaltar on Sunday. Senior Leaders Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam, CPN Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who has rarely made his position clear during the dispute between the two chairmen, were present during the meeting.
Dahal, Khanal, Nepal and Shrestha have been together in the fight against Oli all the time while Gautam keeps on changing camps. Gautam is angry with Oli now after he was not inducted in the Cabinet in the latest Cabinet reshuffle. Thapa has rarely attended such factional meetings.
A source close to Dahal claimed that Thapa is in regular touch with Dahal and is still in the camp of his erstwhile Maoist supremo.
A leader present in the meeting at Khumaltar confided with Setopati that Dahal accused Oli of trying to split the party during Sunday's briefing. "PM apparently has started to propose to part ways from yesterday. Dahal briefed us saying PM proposed to move forward separately and refused to comply with the decision of the party and standing committee meeting, and asked us what we should do now," the leader elaborated. "We told him that we should make efforts for unity until the last hour and hold meetings. We said it would all be resolved if the standing committee decision were honored and opined that we should prepare for the general convention."
Sources close to Oli, however claimed that Dahal has demanded the post of PM.
Dahal staked the claims during their meeting at Baluwatar on Saturday that broke the lack of dialogue between the two chairmen for nearly two weeks, according to a standing committee member close to Oli. "The dialogue was not meaningful. They are growing further apart. All the reasons that are being given now are flimsy. Dahal has claimed for leadership of the council of ministers," the member added.
Dahal is reportedly aggrieved about the Karnali dispute, Cabinet reshuffle, Oli's meeting with Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Samant Kumar Goel, murder of a party cadre in Parsa and other issues. "His main demand is leadership of the council of ministers. The situation has deteriorated a lot," another leader close to Oli confirmed. "PM has been demanding the name of ministers but Dahal has not given the names. PM will reshuffle the Cabinet immediately after he gives names."
But a source close to Dahal claimed that he has not claimed for the post of PM. "Saying Dahal demanded so is a blatant lie. He has demanded implementation of the decision taken by the standing committee meeting," the source added. "Dahal had relinquished the post of PM to ensure that there is a stable government for five years. All kinds of rumors have been spread without understanding the issue."
Oli and Dahal had signed a five-point agreement at the time of unification of the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) on May 17, 2018. The two parties had unified to form CPN the next day on the basis of the five-point agreement.
The fourth point of the agreement mentioned that the two chairmen will lead the government as necessary on the basis of equality and equal period.
But Dahal had relinquished his claim for the post of PM after the two chairmen signed an agreement on division of responsibilities in presence of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on November 20, 2019.
Dahal was made chairman with executive rights. Oli and Dahal were to remain chairmen, and Oli to continue to be ranked top but Oli had handed over the executive rights to Dahal.
Dahal was to lead the party and chair party meetings while Oli would lead the government through the current term of House of Representatives, according to the agreement.
The party was then on the verge of split with Dahal aggrieved that Oli continues to run even the party unilaterally and the overwhelming majority of members during the last standing committee meeting seeking resignation of PM Oli.
The two chairmen then formed a six-strong task force in August to resolve internal dispute in the party. The standing committee meeting then took decision on the basis of the report submitted by the task force that recommended that Oli would serve the full five-year term as PM and Dahal would take the wheel of the party.
Dahal was to be fully active in party works but required to consult PM Oli who will remain a sort of ceremonial chairman. Similarly, PM Oli was required to move the government works forward consulting Dahal.
But Oli has unilaterally made appointments of ambassadors and reshuffled Cabinet without endorsement of Dahal since the standing committee decision.