Among the candidates for senior party functionaries, Asta Laxmi Shakya with 1,976 ballots for deputy chair, and Gokarna Bista with 1,974 for secretary topped the list of those with the most votes from delegates. Surendra Pandey for the second largest number of votes for deputy chair with 1,925 votes and Yogesh Bhattarai came second for secretary with 1960.
Needless to say, Shakya, Bista, Pandey and Bhattarai were all Oli’s critics and in fact were once in the Madhav Nepal faction. Neither Thakur Gaire and Ushakiran Timsena who were elected to central membership used to be pro-Oli, either.
It was even more symbolic for Oli to try to get former Maoists into the top echelons of his party, which is why he fully backed the candidacies of Ram Bahadur Thapa for deputy chair, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Lekhraj Bhatta as secretaries.
On 28 November, the close door meeting of an 11-member committee drew up a list for the 19 member Secretariat high command and candidates for the central membership. Questions can be raised about Oli having manipulated the process in his favour, but even if he did it, it did not go against party rules. And the fact that his candidates got the most votes makes the point moot now.
With his eyes firmly set on elections, he deliberately promoted the Nepal-faction candidates and ex-Maoists to top party positions. Even his detractors within the party understood that strategy and went along with it.
And by not allowing Oli to elevate his candidates to the central membership and Secretariat unopposed, Bhim Rawal and Ghanshyam Bhusal actually helped him gain legitimacy, and earn credit for upholding internal democracy. That Oli and his supporters would win was a foregone conclusion, which is why Rawal and Bhusal actually ended up strengthening the UML.
To be sure, Oli pushed his own blue eyed boys as well: Ishwar Pokhrel as senior deputy chair, Shankar Pokhrel as general secretary, as well as Bishnu Rimal as deputy general secretary and Padma Aryal as secretary.
Ironically, the most dissatisfied with Oli were his close allies Bishnu Poudel, Subhas Nembang, Lalbabu Pandit, Binda Pandey, Radha Gyawali, Goma Devkota, and Bishal Bhattarai who did not get the positions and seniority they thought they deserved.