The Dahal-Nepal faction of CPN has told the Election Commission (EC) that election cannot be held without resolving the dispute of CPN.
Coming out after participating in the meeting of political parties called by the Election Commission on Sunday for discussion on the election code of conduct leader of the faction Leela Mani Pokharel told reporters that election cannot be held without resolving the dispute of a party with majority in the recently dissolved House of Representatives (HoR).
"How can an election be held without resolving the dispute of a political party with 64 percent votes (seats in HoR)? CPN has 64 percent votes (sic). Election cannot be held without resolving its dispute," Pokharel stressed.
He added that the Election Commission during the meting presented the draft of election code of conduct that proposes a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and revocation of candidacy for violating it.
He revealed that the faction urged the Election Commission to not become a helpless shadow of the government and pointed that the election process should not be moved forward when the case of House dissolution is sub judice.
CPN has virtually been split in two faction with one led by Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli and the other by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal. But the Election Commission has not officially recognized any faction.
The warring CPN factions have intensified pressure on the Election Commission for official recognition.
The Dahal-Nepal faction had reached the Election Commission on February 2 and staked claims for official recognition as per clause 44 of the act about political parties. The leaders including three former prime ministers (PM)—chairmen Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, and senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal—reached the Election Commission with signatures of 275 central members and stressed it should get official recognition.
A week on, PM KP Sharma Oli also reached the Election Commission along with his lieutenants on pretense of taking stock of election preparations. Flanked by Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel, former Constituent Assembly (CA) chairman Subash Chandra Nembang and others, Oli even denied the party is currently divided.
He claimed that he remains the chairman of the party formed on May 17, 2018 after unification of the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center), and argued that meetings held by others and their decisions are invalid as only the party general secretary (Paudel) can call a meeting on his instruction.
Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya summarized the Election Commission's official position on the issue while briefing PM Oli about election preparations.
He stated that the Election Commission will move forward in accordance to the letter it sent to the two factions on January 24. The Election Commission wants to tell that clearly inviting both the factions together. But the two factions have refused to go to the Election Commission together. The Dahal-Nepal faction has said it will go if the meeting is held at the level of top leaders but PM Oli has not showed any interest in that.
The Election Commission has sidestepped the legal resolution of CPN's dispute. It has told the erstwhile CPN Chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal that the previous details of the ruling party stand valid.
The Dahal-Nepal faction had removed Oli as chairman and replaced him with Nepal after Oli dissolved the House on December 20 while Oli had removed Dahal as executive chairman and expanded the central committee to 1,500 to manufacture majority in the central committee.
The two factions had informed the Election Commission about those decisions.
The Dahal-Nepal faction claims that it has support of almost 70 percent of the central committee members at the time of registration with the Election Commission and the Oli faction points that the faction that has the top-ranked chairman (Oli) and general secretary (Paudel) is the official CPN.
The Election Commission had sought documents from both the factions after the dispute about recognition arose. It had then told both the factions that the decisions taken were not in accordance to the statute.
The Election Commission in this way officially recognized the united party registered with it having Oli and Dahal as two chairmen even as the party has virtually split.
The Dahal-Nepal faction then reached the Election Commission on February 2 and submitted signatures of 275 central members as the Election Commission has officially recognized the 441 central members.
The Election Commission has since explained that it has not recognized any faction as neither faction has applied for official recognition.
Election Commissioner Ishwori Paudel stated that none of the two factions have applied for official recognition.
"Both the factions have only asked us to update the decisions they took. The Election Commission has not taken any decision on official recognition," Paudel stated. "Should we split their party to grant official recognition they have not asked?"
He compared the dispute in ruling CPN with that of brothers who have yet to file a case about inheritance. "Brothers are bickering. Everybody knows that one is slamming the other but we cannot say they have parted ways until they lodge an inheritance case with the court," he added.
Both the factions have reached the Election Commission stake claims and the Dahal-Nepal faction has even handed over a letter including signatures of the overwhelming majority of the central committee members after that.
But the Election Commission has yet to give its ruling on that and appears to be reluctant to give official recognition to any one faction. The issue of official recognition, in this way, seems likely to go to the court.