NCP POLITICS Battle Royale

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has given in to co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal while choosing the nominee for the post of new speaker

Jan. 24, 2020, 1:16 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 13 No. 11 ,Jan.24-06,Feb.2020(Magh.10, 2076) Publisher: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

The two-week long political battle and power sharing came to an end Saturday afternoon as prime minister K.P. Sharma Oli conceded his demand and accepted co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal's nominee as speaker of the House of Representatives.

Earlier, after Prime Minister Oli proposed to elect Subhash Chandra Nembang the speaker of the House of Representatives, former Maoists and some CPN-UML leaders expressed their resentment.

Following the proposal, PM Oli and co-chair Dahal held several rounds of talks one-to-one and in groups. However, both the leaders stood strongly on their stand.

PM Oli and co-chair Prachanda used all their cards and pressure tactics for their stand to prevail. However nothing worked. Indicating his rejection of Nembang and showing his own candidate, co-chair Dahal even visited Agni Prasad Sapkota's residence and stayed a night in Sindhupalchwok.

However, PM Oli and Dahal did not come to a common stand. With support from Bam Dev Gautam, Prachanda's supporters organized a meeting in Bhainsepati.

"We are facing problems but we will settle it out. It is natural for the recently unified party to face this kind of deadlock," Dahal said in Bharatpur last week while addressing his party workers.

For the last two weeks, politics within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) reached its extreme uncertainty. In the process of selecting the new candidate for the post of speaker of House of Representatives, there were political deadlocks and shows of strength between Prime Minister and Co-Chair of Nepal Communist Party K.P. Sharma Oli and co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Previously, PM Oli and co-chair Dahal normally took major decisions in one or two meetings. However, PM Oli and Dahal spent many hours in negotiations this time. With Oli and Dahal not budging from their stand, the political deadlock remained unresolved.

To put pressure on each other, PM Oli and co-chair Dahal organized the meeting of their loyalists and followers. Co-chair Dahal organized a meeting at the residence of vice-chair Bam Dev Gautam threatening PM Oli to face the consequences.

With the backing of the Party's Secretariat, co-chair Dahal was able to secure the post of House of Representatives for his own nominee Agni Prasad Sapkota, whose case of charges of murder is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Having run the government and party through his iron hand, PM Oli has lost this round of battle yielding to the pressure for withdrawing his nominee Subhash Chandra Nembang from the post of speaker.

Known for his strategy and hard bargaining, co-chair Dahal visited NC leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba's residence indicating to Oli that he would not mind splitting the party and joining hands with Nepali Congress.

Challenging a threat of Prime Minister Oli that he is vulnerable to face cases of murder in the People's War, co-chair Dahal accepted the blame for only 5,000 deaths during the civil war.

This is a challenge to PM Oli whose party also joined political mainstream through violent Naxal-Jhapa movement and his party's role in suppression and rights violations during the civil war.

"I can take the blame for the death of only 5,000 people out of the over 17,000 killed during the decade-long armed insurgency in the country," admitted Prachanda.

The Nepalese civil war, known popularly as the Maoist Conflict or Maoist Insurgency, was a ten-year armed conflict between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) and the government of Nepal, fought from 1996 to 2006.

Speaking at a program organized by the Tharu ethnic community at Tundikhel Open Ground here on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Dahal said, "Many things have been aired pin pointing on me. It is not true that I came here after killing 17,000 people," Prachanda said, defending himself against the blame of being responsible for the 17,000 deaths by the previous speakers during the program.

"What is true is that the state forces killed 12,000 people. I take responsibility for only 5,000 deaths and the ‘kings' of yesterday should take that for 12,000 others. To say that even those killed by the state were killed by me would not be fair," said Dahal.

Lingering for almost three months, Dahal also forced PM Oli, who has been showing hesitation to constitute Disappearance Commission and Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to accept the decision on the transitional justice system.


Waiting For Another Round

Although Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli's tactic and pressure did not work this time with co-chair Dahal and other opponents, he will wait for another appropriate time to defame Dahal and his team in political game. Prime Minister Oli shakes his hand with weak enemy to defeat the stronger one.

The personal nature of Oli is that he is a person not to let any body who creates a hurdle in his game. Within the party, Oli threw Madhav Kumar Nepal, who led the CPN-UML at times of crisis, in the dustbin after unifying with Maoist Party. As Nepal challenges the authority and working pattern, Oli even demoted Nepal in party's ranking bringing Jhalnath Khanl to 3rd position.

As all opponents including Bhim Rawal and Gautam are united with Dahal, Oli will wait for the crack in the group and take harsh decision to pull the rug from the feet of Prachanda.

"Prime minister Oli has lost this round of battle. He will likely play a decisive game next time," said Oli's insider on condition of anonymity. "What can lone Oli do when all former top leaders of CPN-UML and Maoist stand in block with Prachanda."

Unlike PM Oli, co-chair Dahal is compromising and soft in dealing with opponents. Both of them have one similar character that they don't mind to sacrifice loyalists, if necessary.

Dahal sacrificed his long term Maoist colleagues including Mohan Vaidya and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and recently Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is facing a case of alleged rape.

Similarly, PM Oli does not hesitate to compromise with opponents and sacrifice the loyalists. However, PM Oli is more rigid and strong a personality than Dahal.

For now, the internal battle is over. However, there is the need to wait for another political battle which will come sooner not later in the Nepali politics.

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