Fault line appears in the ruling party over the decision to ban Chand’s outfit

  • The main opposition Nepali Congress is divided over the issue, while other parties have criticised the Oli administration’s decision
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 13, 2019-

A day after the government branded the Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party a criminal group and banned its activities, key leaders within the ruling Nepal Communist Party were at loggerheads, with many expressing reservations over the decision.

A gathering of senior ruling party leaders at the residence of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the co-chair of the party, on Wednesday morning, criticised the government’s decision. A group of senior leaders are scheduled to meet Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday to put pressure on him to take the party into confidence before making any important and big decisions.

The meeting concluded the administration’s decision to ban all activities of the Chand-led outfit without serious attempts for talks with it breached the party’s decision-making process and will have serious ramifications, according to an aide to a senior party leader.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is also a former prime minister, speaking to the reporters in Parliament on Wednesday, said that the party may not own up to the decision taken by the government.

“While taking such a big and important decision, it should be discussed within the party. Such kind of tradition is not good for the functioning of the party,” Nepal said, before calling Oli’s decision a “publicity stunt”.

Oli reiterated on Wednesday his government’s decision to take legal action against the terrorist and criminal activities of the Chand-led party, and called the outfit a “group of looters.”

“I urge everyone to not fear the gang of looters,” Oli said during a speech in Kathmandu. “The doors are open for joining mainstream politics but no one has the right to terrorize people.”

Immediately after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday during which the decision to ban activities of the Chand-led outfit was taken, Oli briefed Dahal and Deuba at Baluwatar and sought their support for the government’s decision.

During the briefing, Oli informed both Dahal and Deuba that the government was forced to make the decision after confiscating documents that belonged to the Chand party that showed the group’s plans to spread violence in the future. The government has been particularly cautious following two back to back explosions in the Capital, just weeks ahead of the second investment summit scheduled for March 29 and 30 in Kathmandu.

Following Oli’s briefing, Nepali Congress President Deuba supported the government’s decision to ban the activities of the Chand-led outfit in an interaction with reporters in Biratnagar.

“Chand has been terrorising the people and our friends were also targeted and attacked.  The government should take action in addition to imposing a ban on its activities,” Deuba said.

But internal disagreements over the government’s decision was also exposed inside the main opposition party after Deuba’s defence of the administration’s decision. Three Congress leaders Bal Krishna Khand, Bishow Prakash Sharma and Gagan Thapa held separate interactions with the media on Wednesday, where they criticised the government’s decision, effectively going against their party president.

Another opposition party, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, also criticised the government’s decision.

The government has insisted that its decision on Tuesday was taken after repeated attempts to invite Chand and his party’s senior leaders for a meeting to discuss their grievances. However, a senior minister told the Post that Chand refused to sit for talks with the government, prompting the administration to act swiftly.

On Wednesday morning, Dahal called a meeting of the party secretariat at his residence, where senior party leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, Bamdev Gautam and Narayan Kaji Shrestha were present.

The leaders, according to one of the participants who did not want to be named, discussed Oli’s habit of rejecting the communist party’s decision-making process. Several leaders have already expressed concerns over the administration’s decision last week to sign an agreement with CK Raut without discussing with the secretariat.

Oli will meet the four disgruntled leaders—Nepal, Khanal, Gautam and Shrestha—on Thursday at the request of Dahal to manage the growing dissatisfaction within the party.

Published: 14-03-2019 07:00

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