Kathmandu, March 17: Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has called for a parliamentary party meeting of the ruling CPN-UML on Thursday as the rift between the two warring factions of the party widened with the rival group convening the national gathering of cadres despite warning of disciplinary action against those attending it, according to media reports.
The meeting will take place at Baluwatar, the official residence of the Prime Minister, who is also the Chairperson of the party, Bishal Bhattarai, party’s chief whip, was quoted as saying by myRepublica newspaper.
“All the party leaders who won elections with the symbol Sun’ have been invited to the meeting,” Bhattarai said.
The call for the meeting came as the Communist Party of Nepal-UML’s rival faction led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal went ahead with the two-day national gathering of the party’s leaders and cadres that began on Wednesday.
Yogesh Bhattarai, a key leader belonging to the rival faction, said that at least 2,000 leaders and cadres of the party are expected to join in the national gathering being organised at the Sanepa-based Heritage Garden in Lalitpur, the report said.
Party’s senior leader Madhav Nepal is expected to present a political report on the widening rift in the party and his faction’s strategy for the coming days, it said.
The Oli-led faction had threatened to take disciplinary action against those who will attend the event organised by the Nepal-Khanal faction on Wednesday and Thursday.
CPN-UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, in a statement, directed the party leaders and cadres not to attend the factional gathering, arguing that the UML had not organised any such event.
He warned of disciplinary action against those attending the “unauthorised” gathering.
Accusing Nepal and Khanal of anti-party activities, Prime Minister Oli said, “I hear that they are going to organise a national cadres meeting tomorrow where they will also pass a report. I can no longer tolerate anti-party activities,” The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.
In response to Oli’s warning to those attending the event, Bhattarai asked him to chair the event and remarked that everyone was welcome in the meet and there was no need for the Prime Minister to keep an eye on anyone, the report said.
Besides UML (Unified Marxist Leninist) leaders from across the country, the event also witnessed participation from party’s senior leaders, the report said.
According to a leader close to the group, the participants in the meeting will be divided into ten groups in which they will discuss relevant political issues concerning the party, conclusions from which will further be explored by the group tomorrow, it said.
The rift between the CPN-UML factions intensified after the rival Nepal-Khanal faction demanded Oli to take back his March 12 decisions that divested leaders close to the duo of key responsibilities in the party.
On March 12, the Central Committee meeting dominated by the Oli-led faction nominated 23 new members to the party’s Central Committee (CC). It also nominated 23 former Maoist leaders who joined the UML as CC members.
Bhattarai had said that Chairperson Oli is promoting factional feud in the name of holding party meetings, rejecting to abide by the verdict of Supreme Court and making attempts to split the party.
“The factional gathering organised by the Oli-led faction on March 12 has further deepened discomfort, distrust and suspicion in the party, taking the party toward a split,” Bhattarai said.
Prime Minister Oli’s dissolution of the House of Representatives in December triggered a political crisis in the country. It led to Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”-led CPN-Maoist Centre (MC) to split from the ruling NCP. Nepal and Khanal had also sided with Prachanda in seeking Oli’s resignation as Prime Minister.
However, in a landmark ruling, the apex court last month reinstated the lower house of Parliament.
The political scenario in the country worsened after the Supreme Court recently nullified CPN-MC’s merger with CPN-UML. The two parties had merged in May 2018 to form a unified Nepal Communist Party following the victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday called an all-party meeting to discuss contemporary issues amid the political crisis.
The all-party meeting by the President came at a time when the CPN (UML) appears to be headed for a split with Nepal on Tuesday accusing party Chairman and Prime Minister Oli of trying to divide the party.
However, some leaders at the meeting questioned the haste the President demonstrated on December 20 to endorse the Oli government’s House dissolution move, The Kathmandu Post reported.
Three former prime ministers, Baburam Bhattarai, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, boycotted the meeting, questioning the president’s role in the row of the erstwhile Nepal Communist Party (NCP). (PTI)