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Communist Party factions feud intensifies political crisis in Nepal

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The biggest faction of Nepal’s erstwhile Nepal Communist Party — Communist Party of Nepal — United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) is heading for a split that could plunge the Himalayan State into further crisis.

While the CPN-UML group led by PM K P Oli is trying to tighten its grip on the party, former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal and Oli’s colleague is charting a new course of direction that could lead to further political instability in India’s neighbourhood, ET has learnt from Kathmandu based sources.

Last Friday, in a sudden move, Oli held back-to-back meetings of the CPN-UML’s Central Committee, amended the party statute and stripped leaders close to Nepal of their responsibilities.

The Nepal faction on its part appointed its own leaders in charge of provincial committees, in response to Oli’s Friday decision to appoint leaders close to him to oversee the party’s provincial activities. The Nepal group also nominated chiefs of the party’s various departments.

Amid this, Oli has called the party’s next Central Committee meeting on March 20 and instructed General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel to inform the Nepal-led faction as well. But the Nepal-led faction is unlikely to attend the meeting, sources said.

The Nepal faction of UML has around 40 lawmakers and 104 central members on its side. The UML has 120 members in Parliament and the party’s Central Committee comprises 205 members.

Since the Nepal faction does not have 40 percent of parliamentarians with it, it cannot make a move to split the party. There will be two different structures of the CPN-UML but the party will remain one legally in what would be rather strange development.

Nepal had earlier joined hands Prachanda demanding Oli’s resignation. Though Oli and Nepal saw each other as rivals in the UML, their relations this time hit the lowest point. But the March 7 decision of the Supreme Court made the situation complicated.

Since the court explicitly ordered the revival of the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre (as existed before creation of Nepal Communist Party brokered by China), the Nepal group was left with no option but to return to the UML.

Leaders close to Oli say there is no option left for Nepal other than accepting Oli’s leadership. “Madhav Nepal is left with no option. He cannot split the party and the party’s name and election symbol are with us,” said Krishna Rai, a Central Committee member close to Oli told Nepal’s leading English Daily The Kathmandu Post . “He has to oust Oli if he can, to prevail in the party; or else Oli will.”

Kathmandu based-sources claim that the UML appears to be heading towards a split. According to them, the court’s March 7 decision, appear to have been stacked in Oli’s favour.

Meanwhile Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba said that Nepali Congress is not keen to lead the next government at this stage as the political situation is still fluid and uncertain.

“Nepali Congress is not in a hurry to join or lead the government,” Deuba was quoted by Post as saying. “If the situation permits us to lead or join the government, we will not run away from the responsibility but since people have mandated us to sit in the opposition, we are happy to fulfil that role too. Our main objective is to hold the party’s general convention and figure out how to secure a majority in the next elections.”

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