The streets on the east side of Tundikhel were filled with people under a hazy afternoon sun. Because this main artery was cordoned off for the rally, Kathmandu suffered massive traffic jams all day as buses and cars had to be rerouted.
In his speech, Nepal said: “We have removed K P Oli from party chair and asked him for an explanation. Depending on what he says we will take action against him. But if he says he is sorry and accepts his mistake, we can set him free after some time in jail.”
The leaders, most of them male, sat on sofas on a temporary stage erected on an intersection next to the City Hall.
“K P Oli is a traitor. He is a traitor to the party, and he is a traitor to the Communist movement,” said Jhalnath Khanal, a former prime minister, now loyal to the Dahal-Nepal camp.
The organisers of the rally had mobilised cadres from the Dahal-Nepal faction from Kathmandu and surrounding districts, but it was not clear how many of the public joined the rally to listen to the speeches.
While exhorting the NCP student union this week in an aggressive speech, Dahal had said that “vegetarian protests were not working” and called for “non-vegetarian” agitation. This was taken to mean the use of violence, and the remark was criticised by a section of civil society.
However, in his speech to the rally on Friday, Dahal sounded conciliatory, and mockingly self-critical. “We knew K P Oli was making mistakes, but we failed to bring him back in line. That was our shortcoming.”