CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has briefed his party leaders that CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has stepped back from his commitment to resign en masse.
A Maoist Center standing committee member confided that Dahal did not use the word betrayal during his briefing in the standing committee meeting Thursday evening but the briefing hinted of betrayal.
"Nepal had said they are ready for any kind of sacrifice. He had expressed similar commitment even to Sher Bahadur Deuba," the leader quoted Dahal as saying. "He first said 28-30 lawmakers will resign. He then said if nothing he, Jhala Nath Khanal and Bhim Rawal will resign politically. But I don't know what kind of pressure he came under in the final hour."
Dahal claimed that Nepal stepped back due to national-international pressure and the differences inside the Khanal-Nepal faction. He added that the parliamentary arithmetic did not add up despite all the efforts and revealed that Nepali Congress (NC) President Deuba did not want to stake claims for majority government when there was no majority.
Maoist standing committee member Ganesh Shah claimed that Nepal's step is a blow to the communist movement in the country. "Everyone would have been prepared if he had fought inside UML from the beginning. It would have been better if he had fought like Deuba and Ram Chandra Paudel fight in Congress," he opined. "If the Thursday meeting (with KP Oli) was held in the residence of some leader that would have sent a positive message. But it is now clear that those who brought them together in the house of a businessman are also agents. Crony capitalism has once again prevailed."
Another Maoist standing committee member Leela Mani Pokharel said the situation arrived as the fight of Khanal-Nepal faction was for rules and system, and not ideology. "They could have moved forward if it were an ideological fight. But he and many fellow leaders of his team were fighting with the attitude of Oli. It was resolved once Oli agreed to act in accordance to rules and system."
He claimed that Nepal has not just betrayed Maoist Center but even angered NC. "He had repeatedly visited NC and Maoist leaders to try to topple the government of his party. This will gradually put himself in difficulty," he argued. "He has reached the decision of remaining in UML after friends in his own faction were not ready. That is positive for the party. And he had no alternative to that."
CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, who had failed the floor test on Monday, was reappointed prime minister (PM) Thursday night in capacity of the leader of the largest party in the House as per Article 76(3) of the Constitution after parties did not stake claims for majority government as per Article 76(2) of the Constitution within the nine Thursday night deadline President Bidya Devi Bhandari had given.
Nepali Congress (NC), and Maoist Center could not stake claims for majority government as Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) remained divided on the issue while the lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML did not resign en masse to lower the strength of the House to ensure that the majority government could be formed even without support of the Thakur-Mahato faction of JSP.
Oli will have to pass floor test within 30 days of appointment.
Oli has essentially bought a month by agreeing to return back to the state before unification with CPN (Maoist Center) to stop the lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML from resigning.
Madhav Kumar Nepal told reporters that the chance of resignation has ended for two-four days coming out after the four-hour meeting with Oli at the residence of Rameshwore Thapa in Chapali Height, Kathmandu Thursday evening.
Nepal has briefed his faction that Oli has agreed to return back to the state before unification and take back the decision taken on March 12.
"I have asked Oli whether he will step back from March 12 or not, and return to the day of unification or not. He has provided positive answer saying he also wants to do that," Nepal reportedly briefed his faction about the meeting. "Oli has proposed to form a task force to discuss about how to return back to the state before unification taking back the step of March 12. He has said that he is not adamant on not returning to the state before unification."
But Oli will not get more than a month to fulfill his commitment of returning back to the state before unification with Maoist Center. He will have to pass floor test within 30 days and the situation that played out on Monday can again be repeated if he does not meet the demands of dissident faction.
Nepal consulted legal professionals including Shambhu Thapa about the process to form the government as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution if Oli is ousted after a month.
The Nepal faction had held a virtual meeting of standing committee members on Tuesday and decided to resign to pave the way for majority government ending differences about whether to resign or not. The faction had even briefed NC and Maoist Center about their decision to resign and put forward its conditions to the parties for resignation.
But a few leaders of the faction by Wednesday evening again argued that they should not resign. Nepal was forced to negotiate with Oli instead of resigning on Thursday as a result.
The agreement reached between Oli and Nepal to form a task force and take decision on how to resolve the intra-party dispute in this way has bought Oli one more month.
Oli has been taking unilateral decisions in UML 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.
He held a central committee meeting of his faction on March 12 and inducted new central committee members and illegally amended party statute. He then dissolved all party committees keeping only the post of central chairman and general secretary, and replaced those committees with general convention organizing committees.
He later formed the standing committee excluding all leaders of the Khanal-Nepal faction. He had been bringing his agenda to the party meetings and getting it passed without deliberation in all meetings since March 12.
The Khanal-Nepal faction has been demanding withdrawal of the decision taken on March 12 and later to return back to the state before unification.
Oli, who was saying that the twin demands cannot be met, has expressed flexibility during the meeting on Thursday.
Nepali Congress (NC) and Maoist Center had already concluded that the possibility of forming a majority government has almost ended even before the truce between Oli and Nepal was announced.
NC and Moist Center were counting on at least 20 lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction resigning as assured by the faction until Thursday morning.
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 had to muster support of 136 lawmakers to form the majority government as per Article 76(2) of the Constitution but they could not do so.
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 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 had 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 of JSP.