The Khanal-Nepal faction of CPN-UML has smelt rat in the decision of UML Chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli to seek review of the Supreme Court (SC) order to reinstate four Karnali lawmakers expelled by the party.
The organizing committee for the 10th general convention of UML had expelled lawmakers Prakash Jwala, Kurma Raj Shahi, Nanda Singh Buda and Ambar Bahadur Thapa for crossing the floor to save the government of Mahendra Bahadur Shahi in Karnali.
The SC hearing a petition by the four lawmakers issued an interim order to reinstate them on June 10 ruling that the general convention organizing committee cannot expel lawmakers like the central committee.
The Khanal-Nepal faction was enthusiastic about party unity concluding that the SC's refusal to recognize the organizing committee would return UML to the state it was before unification with CPN (Maoist Center) as it demanded. Informal talks between the two factions were held with increased frequency with Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel, and standing committee members Subash Chandra Nembang and Pradeep Gyawali representing the Oli camp and leaders like Ghanashyam Bhusal, Gokarna Bista, Bhim Acharya and Yogesh Bhattarai representing the dissident faction.
But the Khanal-Nepal faction has grown suspicious after the Oli camp opted for review of the SC interim order even as the environment is getting conducive for unity. "The environment of consensus has been vitiated. They have been playing only their things. There were efforts to find a middle way somewhere in between the demand of one faction to take back the signatures from the SC case and the other to take back the decision of House dissolution," a leader from the faction taking part in the dialogue confided. "Baluwatar has spread rumors that we will take back the signatures. There is zero possibility of that. The step yesterday (to seek review of interim order) has damaged the possibility of consensus. There will be lingering for some time."
Oli's lieutenant Nembang, however, claimed that the decision to seek review has not vitiated the environment for consensus. "Our discussion continues. Everyone knew that we were preparing for review. There is no need to think whether this will affect dialogue or not. This is a separate issue," he argued.
UML Vice-chairman Yubaraj Gyawali accused Oli of not wanting unity and resorting to machinations in the name of unity. "Every development has been establishing that Oli does not want party unity. It looks as if he is interested only in machinations in the name of unity and see if he can benefit from that," he stated. |"He held countrywide celebrations when UML and Maoist Center were separated. UML will do well in election if there is party unity. He, therefore, doesn't want that."
He claimed that a large section of the Oli camp is for party unity but cannot speak against Oli. He opined that Oli will be more serious only if the SC refuses to review the interim order.
"If the organizing committee is recognized as the official committee, he may say those who want to come with me can come and those who don't can go. That can weaken our wish for unity. They seem to want to split a few from our faction," he elaborated. "There can be no party unity unless the main leaders come together. The power that is using him will not allow unity."