As voices against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli got stronger in the ruling Nepal Communist Party a few months ago, 20 leaders demanded that the party immediately convene a standing committee meeting to discuss their concerns. One of those demanding the meeting was Raghuji Panta, a close confidant of Madhav Kumar Nepal in the party’s internal politics.
As per their demand, the party began the standing committee meeting in late June. However, it could not move smoothly as a majority of the leaders including another chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal demanded Oli’s resignation from the government and the party leadership, which he consistently refused to heed. Since then, two chairpersons of the party met dozens of time to seek consensus, but to no avail. With both sides adamant on their stances, the crisis is intensifying in the party.
In this context, Onlinekhabar recently talked to Panta to discuss possible solutions to the problem.
The standing committee meeting had already started on June 24. The agenda of the meeting had also been decided. But, why did the two chairpersons have to sit together to seek consensus?
The consensus should have been sought in the standing committee meeting itself. However, we should not assume that the two chairpersons should not sit together for discussions. The two chairpersons can discuss anything. After that, there may be a discussion in the secretariat. The discussion in the secretariat can be brought to the standing committee, it cannot be deemed wrong. However, the two chairpersons secretly forging an agreement is wrong in itself.
You said that the two chairmen could discuss, but the standing committee meeting had already begun, and the meeting had also set the agenda. Isn’t it absurd that the chairmen stopped the meeting to have conversations between them?
We said the meeting had to go to the agenda. However, the prime minister’s statements enraged secretariat and standing committee members. Else, the agenda did not have anything about his resignation.
The topic could have been raised after the performance of the government and the party leadership was evaluated. But, the way he made the allegations has drawn criticisms from across the country, the foreign media and other political parties. Therefore, the members of the standing committee were angry at him and demanded his resignation. It is because the prime minister could not handle the things well.
Even if the prime minister was so, why did Madhav Kumar Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal leave the meeting and have secret meetings with Oli? What would have happened if the discussions had been held in the standing committee meeting itself focusing on the agenda?
There is the agenda; our meeting is ongoing, and the discussion is not over. Now, the agenda should be focused; the party’s works have to be reviewed. The agenda we had set needed to come up in the meeting. These agenda has to be discussed. I was surprised to hear that the general convention would be held in November without even discussing the pre-set agenda.
We will talk about the general convention later. However, if there were any problems during the meeting of the standing committee, it would have been easier if the two chairpersons or the secretariat had discussed them. However, the agenda has not been discussed in the standing committee itself. If two or three leaders have separate discussions, what is the justification for convening a meeting of the standing committee? You are one of the 20 leaders who demanded the meeting. Why did you ask for such a meeting that could not discuss the agenda?
Prime Minister and Party Chairman KP Sharma Oli did not attend the standing committee meeting. He did not want to. The meeting was held in Baluwatar because of him. Otherwise, the meeting would be held at the party office in Dhumbarahi. We convened the meeting in Baluwatar so that it would be easy for him to attend the meeting and so that he would listen to all of us. And, if there were differences of opinions, we would find a solution by discussing in the meeting.
But, the prime minister labelled the standing committee members unruly. We are not unruly. We were saddened when the prime minister called us so. But, I do not want to make it an issue. He is our chairperson and has a long political career, I do not think he does not know how to speak with his comrades. But, he should not say such things to hurt others. No one from the standing committee should be insulted. There is no point in insulting Oli either, neither should Prachanda (Dahal) be insulted. It may be less, it may be more, but everyone has contributed to building this party.
We are requesting Oli to come to the meeting and listen to us. Let there be a solution through consensus. If there is such a possibility, even if the two chairpersons talk in the middle of the meeting, it cannot be considered unnatural.
However, not all party members can agree on the decisions taken by the two chairpersons alone. If the two have something to say, they have to come to the secretariat. If the secretariat approves it, it has to be brought to the standing committee as an agenda item. If the issue is to be brought to the central committee, it needs to be brought to the central committee.
The two leaders convene a meeting of the standing committee and discuss separately, secretly for a month. Don’t you think it’s a farce?
We have not done that. You should ask those who have actually done that.
A meeting of the standing committee has been called, and again it is said that the two chairmen will discuss and seek consensus. Isn’t that absurd?
It is not like that. The agenda that came forth changed everything. The meeting could not discuss the pre-set agenda properly as the demand for PM’s resignation came to the front. We have tried to reach a consensus on this, we are still trying to. Asides from this, there are other things on the agenda which need to be discussed.
We have to focus on problems of the people including floods, landslides and Covid-19 on our agenda. These were on the agenda even when 20 of us demanded a meeting. However, the atmosphere has changed that we have not been able to enter into this agenda. So, our demand is the party should consider the set agenda to solve this political problem. To address this, the party chairperson and the prime minister needs to be flexible.
We have also said that solution is not possible if we persist that he should leave both the positions or he should not leave either of them. Even if we find a temporary solution, the problem will come back to haunt us in two or three months. Therefore, we need to find a permanent solution.
We have become flexible for consensus in the party that a solution has to be found through proper methods and processes. All the members of the standing committee want a consensus, a good atmosphere, and a united party. The leaders responsible for this should understand these wishes.
It has been heard that Prime Minister KP Oli desires to hold a general convention next November or December. According to the NCP constitution, who sets the date of the general convention? Is it the central committee or the two chairpersons? Can two chairs fix the date of the convention in a secret room?
It is not possible. In the absence of a decision, he could have come up with a compromising proposal, but a decision has already been made about the general convention. The central committee meeting in January has decided to hold the general convention in April 2021. Let alone the two chairpersons, neither the secretariat nor the standing committee can reverse that decision.
If we want to change that decision, we have to go to the central committee again. They cannot decide on things against the party constitution. However, I do not take the issue seriously after Comrade Prachanda said that there has been no agreement to hold the general convention in November or December, so the issue has disappeared now.
Can it also be true that Prime Minister Oli has asked for a general convention sooner than April out of his concern for the party?
I do not know the motive behind the proposal. However, everyone including the party chairpersons has to abide by the party’s constitution and rules. We should follow them properly. We have to proceed according to the set procedures.