News Digest – Democracy & Governance (November 19 – 25)

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PM Oli

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Dispute: After a series of meetings, consultations, and consideration followed by the Oli-Dahal letter exchange, the NCP held its secretariat meeting on November 18, with the presence of both Oli and Dahal. The meeting, however, was postponed for 10 days, where Oli will be presenting his own political document. While some are positive about the prospect of comparison and discussion of Oli’s and Dahal’s documents, others are cynical of what sly move PM Oli may come up with within the next 10 days.

Despite the Chinese Embassy’s clarification that the ambassador’s meeting with PM was merely  to discuss COVID-19 management and to exchange Tihar greetings, experts have seen this interaction in a rather meaningful way. Like in the past, the Chinese diplomat is likely to be playing a moderating role in the party’s crisis.

In an interview, senior leader Khanal stated that the dispute is no longer only between the two party chiefs. He also suggested that if a consensus cannot be made in the meeting, the party will have to decide based on the majority.

Referring to Dahal’s political document, PM Oli said that he had never in his life faced such ‘fake’ and shameful allegations. He also mentioned that there will be no moral ground to stay in PM’s and party chair’s positions if these allegations were proven true, but that if the allegations are not proven, Dahal would have to face consequences and step down himself.

On November 22, 2020, PM Oli met NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba. Despite speculations that PM Oli is trying to build an alliance with NC to stay in power after a possible party splits, some experts and leaders from opposition faction claim that the meeting was merely a ploy to put pressure on his rival faction. However, Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma warned that no attempt should be made to count heads and forge any alliance with PM Oli. NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC also stated that an alliance with Oli would be a suicide for Nepali Congress.

NCP’s ongoing struggle seems to stand at a critical juncture with both Dahal and Oli firm on their positions; while the former has presented a written document and wants the issues discussed at a meeting, the latter is supposedly working to introduce his own document, for which he requested a 10-days extension for the secretariat meeting. Many NCP leaders believe that the dispute is a personal one, lacking ideological base, which means the clashing leaders themselves are unprepared for the true future or consequences of the possible split.

Noting that Oli is not just a person but a mindset and attitude responsible for the country’s and government’s failure, JSPN leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai warned all to not support it; his message was referring to Nepali Congress president Deuba’s meeting with prime minister Oli.

On November 23, 2020, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi met NCP co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal to discuss the recent political developments, Nepal-China relations, and NCP-CCP relations.

The Nepal-Dahal faction is set to publicize the most-recent written correspondences between PM Oli and Dahal; turning the letters and counter-letters into a booklet, they are distributing it to all seven provinces for discussion and transparency.

Nepali Congress: The opposition Nepali Congress is still struggling to solve the intra-party feud regarding the distribution of active membership. Three districts—Bara, Saptari, and Sindhupalchowk— have yet to make federal adjustments in their party organizations, let alone distribute active membership.

Nepali Congress seems divided on the possibility of joining the government by supporting PM Oli. While the new generation leaders are clear against an alliance with PM Oli’s government, NC president Deuba and leader Krishna Prashad Sitaula appear positive about the possibility.

The Federal Parliament: The House Speaker Agni Sapkota communicated his office’s preparedness to relaunch the House session, suggesting that it is now up to the government whether the meeting is called. However, PM Oli, who is facing a serious challenge from within the party is unlikely to call the meeting; resuming the parliament would build more pressure on him, for the opposition faction has the number to file a no-confidence motion against him.

Although it has been over four and half months since the parliament was prorogued, neither the government nor the opposition party seems willing or interested to resume parliamentary sessions. However, the government is introducing one ordinance after another.

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