A section in the ruling party objects to most of the points in pact with Raut

  • Text of agreement is flawed and it may widen intra-party rift, party insiders say
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Mar 10, 2019-

A deal signed between the government and CK Raut, coordinator of the Alliance for Independent Madhes, on Friday afternoon could widen the rift in the ruling communist party, its leaders warned on Saturday.

Many leaders of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said they were not aware of the developments and that the deal—undersigned by Raut and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa in the presence of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, co-chairman of the ruling party—was prepared in a “dark room”.

Bhim Rawal, a Standing Committee member of the ruling party, has been the most vocal critic of the agreement, who has pointed out quite a few shortcomings in it.

Rawal objected to most of the points in the deal, claiming that they were carefully designed to serve the interests of Raut’s political organisation.

“The whole episode of signing the deal was wrong and this would affect the country and the people as a whole,” Rawal said at an interaction at the Reporters’ Club here on Saturday. “There hardly is any single phrase that spells out Raut’s alliance has left its secessionist movement.”

Other ruling party leaders also complained that they were not consulted before the signing of the deal and that the development was briefed to the party Secretariat members at the last moment.

“We never discussed the development; by the time we came to know of it, a deal had already been signed,” Narayan Kaji Shrestha, spokesperson for the ruling party, told the Post.

Ruling party insiders, especially those who represent the Maoist party and the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction, have even described the deal as a continuation of top leaders’ “unilateral way” of running the party where party committees are rarely consulted.

“Yesterday’s agreement will further fuel the existing dissatisfaction among the leaders against the party leadership,” said Mani Thapa, a Standing Committee member.

One Central Committee member, who is close to Dahal, even went on to say that the way Oli “slighted” Dahal, a two-time prime minister and party co-chair, can have serious ramifications in the party’s internal dynamics.

While heaping praise on Raut, Oli on Friday had compared the Madhesi activist with Dahal, saying both of them have “exceptional decision-making quality”.

“But from his expressions, it was quite clear that Dahal was not happy,” the Central Committee leader said

on condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter. “Dahal is not a leader who easily accepts such humiliations and forgets them.”

Though Oli and Dahal declared themselves “co-pilots” when the former Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) in May last year, the rift between the two has started to surface in recent months.

Ruling party leaders said at a time when there was a need to make peace between the two, Oli has further complicated the problem. “Oli, no matter how oblique the reference was, made a statement in such a way that it sent a message as if Dahal was a lesser leader than Raut,” he said.

Another Standing Committee member, Ghanashyam Bhusal, added: “It was not quite civil when Oli spoke of Dahal while praising Raut.”

Rawal, also a former home minister, even urged Dahal to respond how he felt about his co-chair’s comment.

“How can one compare our chairman with a person who faced jail terms for secessionist activities. Chairman Dahal should respond,” Rawal said at Saturday’s interaction in the Capital.

The leaders of the party Secretariat said they had problem with the language used in the deal and advised the leadership to make necessary changes.

Jhala Nath Khanal, a former prime minister and senior leader in the ruling party, told the Post that he and some other leaders had even suggested that the party chairmen amend the wordings in the deal, as there were many flaws.

“But no changes were seen in the document that was signed later,” he said.

Members of Dahal’s Secretariat were also not happy with the development. “We prefer not to speak on this matter for now,” said Bishnu Sapkota, Dahal’s press advisor. Leaders have demanded that the Standing Committee and Central Committee further discuss the matter as it is of huge national significance.

“All the anti-national words in the deal must be scrapped,” Rawal told the Post.

“If the leadership accepts the party and its statute, they must understand nobody has the right to take decisions unilaterally.”

Published: 10-03-2019 11:53

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