National

Unification of ruling party said to conclude soon

  • NCP Co-chair and PM Oli is learnt to be positive on sharing the leadership of district committees with Nepal
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Apr 21, 2019-

The ruling communist party leadership could announce the conclusion of the unification process between the erstwhile CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) on Monday, coinciding with the establishment day of the Nepal Communist Party seven decades ago.

Party leaders say that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who co-chairs the unified Nepal Communist Party (NCP), is positive about addressing the concerns raised by the disgruntled faction, led by senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, to conclude the unification process.

Oli and NCP Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had agreed, during their overnight stay at the Chandragiri Hills Resort on April 12, to announce the conclusion of the party unification process by addressing the concerns raised by the disgruntled faction, according to leaders close to Dahal.

Following the Chandragiri agreement, Oli held two rounds of talks with senior leader Nepal in Baluwatar on Thursday and Friday. The talks are said to have concluded with Oli agreeing to address the demands raised by the Nepal faction. On Saturday morning, Oli, Dahal, Nepal and General Secretary Bishnu Poudel met for at least three hours at the prime minister’s residence to finalise the issue. Party insiders said the top leaders would sit on Sunday morning again to list out the names of district leaders, which would be endorsed by the party’s Secretariat meeting.

“I was told that Oli was positive about allowing the elected representatives to lead the district committees, which would resolve the outstanding issues of unification for now,” said Ghanashyam Bhusal, an NCP Standing Committee member close to Nepal. “If everything goes as planned, the party is likely to announce conclusion of the unification process on Monday,” he added.

Discussions were held on different options to ensure that Nepal’s concerns are addressed. Nepal has been urging the two co-chairs to give him a respectable share in the unified district committees. He has warned of forming parallel committees if the demands of his faction are ignored.

“Things are moving ahead positively. We must complete the unity process by April 22, or else things may be difficult to manage later,” said Haribol Gajurel, a standing committee member close to Dahal.

It’s almost a year since the two parties announced their merger to form the NCP, but the unification process is far from complete.

In the joint political document endorsed by the Standing Committee in December 2018, the two chairpersons had promised to finalise the remaining tasks of the unification process within a month—by January 29, 2019.

The major issue dogging the ongoing unification process, according to leaders, is the division of district leaderships between the Oli and Nepal factions. Following the “win-win” proposal of Dahal to allow the elected people’s representatives to lead the districts, the Nepal faction has agreed to complete the party unification process, but Oli has not responded.

“Nepal said the latest talks were positive and that Oli was positive about setting the criteria of seniority among the elected representatives for the unified party’s district leadership,” said Bishnu Rijal, a central member close to Nepal.

If agreed, Dahal’s proposal would not only woo Nepal, who has been raising the issue of one-leader-one-position following Oli-Dahal’s decision to allow Chief Ministers Prithvi Subba Gurung of Gandaki and Shankar Pokhrel of Province 5 to head the party’s provincial committees as well, but also silence the erstwhile Maoist leaders who could question Dahal’s choice of district leaders.

Party insiders say it is the resistance from the Nepal-led faction that is hindering the unification process. Claiming that the two chairmen were trying to finalise the district committees without setting any criteria, the Nepal faction had warned of announcing its own parallel district committees.

Earlier, party leaders had agreed, in principle, on leadership in 45 districts for former UML and in 32 districts for former Maoists—and secretaries from UML in the districts led by the former Maoists and vice-versa. But the problem that the party is facing now is sharing of leadership positions in 45 districts between the Oli and Nepal factions.

The Nepal faction is for selecting the leadership through a set of criteria—on seniority basis.

But Oli supporters are for letting the two chairpersons finalise the list “without considering shares to the factions”.

Before Dahal left for the United States, he and Oli had finalised the leaderships of 56 districts—district chairpersons and secretaries. But only two leaders close to Nepal were included in the list—Bhim Prasad Dahal of Dolakha and Jhamka Nepal of Sindhupalchok, according to leaders close to Nepal.

“This development had irked Nepal and then he warned of consequences if the two chairpersons tried to push the list,” said Rijal.

Out of previous 75 district committees, the Nepal faction had 36 chairpersons in the district committees of erstwhile UML. Nepal fears that the Oli faction could be attempting to diminish his group.

Published: 21-04-2019 08:17

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