KP Oli’s Consolidation of Power through UML’s General Convention


KP Oli, elected as the party president in CPN-UML’s 10th General Convention, with allies elected to key positions, has consolidated power over CPN-UML. His mechanism for consolidation of authority is to gain power through politics of consensus and silence opposition voices. These actions have sidelined democratic values within the party. Oli has created his own cult of personality, engaged in party capturing behavior, and violated democratic norms. Furthermore, Oli attempted to obstruct aspirants for party posts in order to facilitate his allies to obtain key posts, infuriating other cadres and leaders. Observers have noted that these are signs of institutionalized supremacy, with Oli attempting to capture all powers.

In CPN-UML’s 10th General Convention, Oli won the position of CPN-UML party president for the next five years with 1,837 votes, with his competitor Rawal getting 223 votes. However, Oli attempted but failed to stall elections for vice chair, secretary posts, and Central Committee members during the convention.

Oli’s selections were elected for vice-chairs, secretaries, senior vice-chair, general secretary, deputy general secretary, and Central committee members. KP Oli’s five lieutenants secured positions unopposed. Ishwor and Shankar Pokhrel acquired senior vice-chair and general secretary positions respectively. Pradeep Gyawali, Prithvi Subba Gurung, and Bishnu Rimal acquired three deputy general secretary posts. This has threatened the democracy within the party Oli tried to suppress intra-party election, chairman’s candidate Rawal’s team was obstructed to advertise candidacy by Oli supporters and most of the office bearers were handpicked by Oli.

CPN-UML Party President, K.P. Sharma Oli. Photo: RSS

Before these positions were appointed, a Central Committee meeting of CPN-UML on November 26 revised the party’s statute, changing the size of the Central Committee from 225 to 301 and office bearers from 15 to 19. Observers say this was done to consolidate consensus for key posts.

In 2014, during CPN-UML’s ninth General Convention, KP Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal had competed for the position of party president. The competition was significantly tighter compared to the recent convention, with Oli securing 1,002 votes and Nepal securing 963 votes. This signals that at the time, Oli and Nepal had equal footing in the party, however, the stark difference in votes with Bhim Rawal (Oli with 1,837 votes and Rawal with 223 votes), signals the significant increase in KP Oli’s consolidation of political power and influence within the party.

Earlier, Oli had stripped Nepal from his position of “senior leader” in order to diminish his political power. Soon, facilitated by an ordinance which eases party splits, CPN-UML split, Madhav Kumar Nepal formed a splinter party–CPN (Unified Socialist). One of Oli’s intentions during the general convention besides consolidation of power was to prevent a rival faction arising within the CPN-UML. However, leaders from Oli’s own camp such as Bishnu Poudel, Subas Nembang, Lal Babu Pandit among others, have been aggravated by Oli’s actions. This is likely to cause intra-party disputes until Oli’s term as party president until 2026.

In another circumstance, Oli’s intention in this convention was to motivate the party cadres through the appointment of leadership positions by consensus and deliver the notion of unity and oneness for the upcoming election. Overall, 10th UML convention has been a step forward to consolidate Oli’s authoritarianism within the party dynamics, diverting party away from principle of collective leadership towards everything controlled by a single man, showing the signs of fascism.

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