As communist party Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli faces mounting criticism from within the party and the public, his comrade in arms Pushpa Kamal Dahal is gaining ground in the unified party.
During the third Standing Committee meeting of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) that concluded on Friday, leaders, especially from the Madhav Nepal camp of the erstwhile CPN-UML, “exploded” against the working style of Oli.
Fearful of criticism of his unilateral working style, as some leaders suspected, the prime minister kept postponing the crucial Standing Committee meeting, which the party statute requires to be held every three months. The latest meeting was held after a gap of five months.
On the first day of the meeting, Chairman Dahal apologised for the delay in holding the meeting while Oli remained adamant. Leaders from the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Centre) believe that Dahal played a balanced act so as to impress members from the former UML that he would ultimately lead the unified party as one who could ensure justice for all.
According to Ganesh Sah, a Standing Committee member, Dahal closely watched the presentations of former UML leaders at the meeting. He was clever enough to win the sentiments of the Standing Committee members by agreeing to their demands—most of them targeted at Oli’s working style.
Rejecting the proposal of Bamdev Gautam to allow Dahal to lead the party while Oli focuses on government, he also imparted a clear message that he was in no mood to confront with Oli, said leaders.
“Dahal is currently not in a position to displease Chairman Oli in any way,” said SC member Mani Thapa. He used the meeting to demonstrate his leadership skills with a “constructive” role in resolving issues at the meeting.
Dahal decently opposed the way Oli has been steering the government, saying that the party should run the government and not the vice-versa. SC members criticised Oli for taking unilateral decisions on matters of governance. This is said to be the reason he takes flak from all sides.
Political analyst Hari Roka, however, said the power tussle within the NCP had been simmering with party unification process yet to be completed. “It’s obvious that leaders attempt to widen their space within the party and so did Dahal,” said prominent leader Ghanashyam Bhusal.
With a number of controversial decisions and failure to deliver, said Roka, Oli has been under fire from both the party and the public.
Former prime minister Dahal skilfully skipped the controversial Asia Pacific Summit in which the involvement of both Oli and his rival Madhav Nepal was widely criticised from within the party and outside.
Dahal has managed to keep all his former comrades by his side while attracting leaders from both the Nepal and Oli factions of the former UML.
A Dahal supporter, however, said the two factions of the former UML would unite whenever necessary as they are stronger in numbers compared to the former Maoists.
Though the two communist factions have agreed to lead the unified party through unanimous decisions until the unity general convention, Dahal, who led the revolutionary Maoist party for three decades, harbours hope to head the party commanding an overwhelming majority in Parliament.