Confidants of CPN-UML Chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli have held discussion with dissident leader Madhav Kumar Nepal at the latter's residence in Koteshwore Thursday morning.
A party source confided that Oli's lieutenants including Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel and others proposed that the dispute can be discussed in the meeting of standing committee that existed before unification with CPN (Maoist Center). Nepal asked what will happen with the new committees formed in districts and provinces in response.
Paudel replied that a task force can be formed for that. Nepal then quipped that the proposal was made to just buy time. The meeting ended after the two sides failed to agree, according to the source.
The standing committee meeting of Oli faction held at the prime minister's residence in Baluwatar after the meeting at Koteshwore then decided to withdraw action taken against Nepal, Bhim Rawal, Surendra Pandey and Ghanashyam Bhusal.
Dispute in UML has reached boiling point after the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated unification of UML with CPN (Maoist Center) on March 7 reinstating the two parties to the sate they were on the day of unification.
The Khanal-Nepal faction has been demanding that Oli should take back the unilateral decisions he took on March 12 and move forward from the state the party was on the day of unification with Maoist Center.
Lawmakers of the faction had threatened to resign before the floor test on Monday but they stepped back and decided to abstain from the House that day.
The motion for confidence vote presented by PM Oli received only 93 votes on Monday while 124 lawmakers voted against the government and 15 decided to neither support nor oppose the motion.
Twenty-eight lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of CPN-UML did not attend the House proceedings despite the ruling party issuing a whip instructing all the lawmakers to vote in support of the motion.
Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and JSP Chairman Upendra Yadav issued a joint statement urging President Bhandari to invite parties to form majority government as per Article 76(2) of the Constitution immediately after Oli flunked the floor test. President Bhandari did so a few hours later giving the parties a deadline of nine Thursday night to form majority government.
The current strength of HoR is 271 after Maoist Center expelled four lawmakers who joined CPN-UML after the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated unification of UML and Maoist Center on March 7.
UML currently has 121 lawmakers, NC 63 (but two are suspended), Maoist Center has 49 (including Speaker), JSP 34 (including two suspended) and three lawmakers are independent.
The parties will have to muster support of 136 lawmakers to form the majority government as per Article 76(2) of the Constitution.
JSP is currently divided on whether to form a government excluding UML or not. JSP leaders Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav, coming from erstwhile Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, publicly demanded toppling of Oli government and want to form a majority government with NC and Maoist Center while leaders from the erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party like Thakur and Rajendra Mahato were negotiating with Oli and are unwilling to join the alliance with NC and Maoist Center.
Thakur and Mahato earlier on Wednesday met President Bidya Devi Bhandari and reportedly urged her to reject the proposal if another Chairman Upendra Yadav sends a letter to form majority government. They pointed that Yadav is the second-ranked chairman and the Election Commission also recognizes Thakur's signature.
More than 20 lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML will have to resign to bring down the strength of House to ensure that the parties can muster majority even without support of the Thakur-Mahato faction.
Rawal and Nepal met NC President Deuba along with Madhav Kumar Nepal on Tuesday and there are reports that lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction will resign en masse Thursday to ensure that Oli is finally ousted from Baluwatar.
Oli sent Paudel and other leaders to talk with Nepal, and decided to withdraw action against the four leaders to avoid that.