Prime Minister K P Oli walked out of a NCP Secretariat meeting after party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal asked for the party’s Standing Committee meeting to be convened. The meeting continued without the prime minister, but Oli returned an hour later and said the Standing Committee was not going to meet there had not be adequate discussion on the agenda. He also accused the rival faction of trying to topple him from the time he took office two years ago.
The crisis in the party is not over, it has just been postponed for now, and it is not likely to be resolved soon because there is just too much bad blood between the top nine members in the party secretariat stemming from ego clashes based on perceived slights in the past, animosities that go back decades, ambition, greed and a bitter power struggle for the top jobs.
“The party has lost all its ideological bearings, it has no principles left, it is all about a power struggle for positions within the party,” sums up political analyst Shyam Shrestha.
Nepali Parliament members to get COVID-19 tests, Nepali Times
What is unconscionable for Shrestha and other former UML leaders even within the party is that the infighting is going on at a time of such grave national crisis. The budget session of Parliament which is supposed to come up with the government’s policies and programs is even more important this year than at most other times.
Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada is a staunch Oli loyalist, and has said that this year’s budget will have to focus on national recovery, and ensure that the Nepalis who are most vulnerable are provided for.
There was great expectation that with a near two-thirds majority, the NCP was in an ideal position to make good on its electoral promise of raising living standards of Nepalis through political stability. It squandered that chance, and now it is faced with one of the gravest crises in recent history, with a polarised party structure.
Nepal relaxing lockdown afterall, Nepali Times
Party insiders blame Oli for not only destroying party unity, but also discrediting Nepal’s Communist movement, violating Parliamentary process, going against the spirit of the constitution through his two ordinances, and attempts to split the Nepal Samajbadi Party.
Finance Minister Khatiwada’s designation of sectors that will be partially opened seem to show that it is going to be business as usual once the lockdown is lifted. For example, sand mining and the crusher industries will now be allowed to resume operation during the lockdown.
Critics say the Cabinet should have endorsed the proposal to continue with the lockdown in areas at high risk from community spread of coronavirus like Parsa, Nepalganj and Udaypur, and a partial lifting of restrictions in areas where there have been no infections for four weeks.
They say the exact details of sectoral opening are too vague, will spread confusion among law enforcers and the public, and risk reversing the gains of the lockdown with possible future cluster outbreaks in the country.
All these dangers coincide with the inter-NCP wrangling, the factionalism dividing Parliament at a time when decisive action is needed to deal with the health emergency, and the economic crisis that the pandemic has spawned.