Amid the political turmoil in Nepal, the ruling communist party executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' said on Sunday that any attempt from anywhere to weaken the party unity would not be in favour of the people and hurt the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.
Addressing a meeting of the District Disaster Management Committee, Chitwan, Prachanda said that the political activities should not affect the government's response to coronavirus crisis and natural disasters.
"Any attempt from anywhere else to weaken the party unity would not be in favour of the people," Prachanda was quoted as saying by The Rising Nepal.
He urged all the political parties, civil society, media and one and all to engage in a combined battle against the COVID-19 crisis and natural disasters.
Top Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders, including 'Prachanda', have demanded Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's resignation, saying his recent anti-India remarks were "neither politically correct nor diplomatically appropriate."
Oli and Prachanda have held over half a dozen one-on-one meetings in recent days, but the two leaders are nowhere close to a power-sharing deal.
Meanwhile, the ruling party is divided on one-on-one talks between Oli and Prachanda, with a senior party leader saying that prolonging the issues will not serve anybody's interest.
The meeting of the NCP's 45-member powerful Standing Committee to decide Oli's fate was scheduled to be held on Friday. But it was postponed for a week at the last moment, citing floods and landslides that killed at least 22 people.
NCP leader Asta Laxmi Shakya said it was okay for the party to postpone the crucial Standing Committee meeting for a week, keeping in mind the risk of extreme weather, but Oli should be ready to settle these issues after seven days.
She said that prolonging the issues will not serve anybody's interest and it means that differences will keep cropping up, impacting the party, The Himalayan Times reported.
Shakya said that one-on-one meeting between Oli and Prachanda would not help resolve the internal feud.
"If the PM does not feel comfortable discussing some issues in front of all the members of the Standing Committee, then he could discuss these issues with the rival faction, with both factions including three to four key leaders or they can discuss the issues in the party Secretariat.
"But the two co-chairs should not discuss issues themselves," she argued.
Shakya said that Prime Minister Oli should have used his address to the nation on Friday night to calm down the youths protesting in his support and say that the party would not split, but he did not mention any of these things.
NCP Standing Committee member Beduram Bhusal said that Oli mixed politics in his message meant to inform the public about the government's efforts to deal with natural disasters and COVID-19.
Bhusal said that the only option for resolving the internal rift was to discuss all issues in the Standing Committee and follow the body's decision.
Another Standing Committee member Mani Thapa, however, said that Oli's statement that internal differences could be resolved through dialogue was a sign that differences between the prime minister and Prachanda were narrowing down.
Thapa said that he and some other second rung leaders have advised Prachanda to focus on one-on-one meeting with Oli as they were both signatories to the unity deal signed between the former CPN- UML and UCPN-Maoist Centre.
According to Thapa, Prachanda was initially hesitant to hold one-on-one meeting with Oli because he thought that could antagonise his faction leaders, particularly former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jahala Nath Khanal, but he finally agreed when some second rung leaders convinced him.
Under mounting pressure to resign, Prime Minister Oli has downplayed the intra-party rift and said such disputes are "regular phenomena" that can be resolved through dialogue.
The differences between the two factions of the NCP, one led by 68-year-old Oli and the other led by Prachanda on the issue of power-sharing, intensified after the prime minister unilaterally decided to prorogue the budget session of Parliament.
The political future of Oli is now expected to be decided on July 17 during the Standing Committee meeting, amidst the growing involvement of Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqui to save his chair.
Oli is under intense pressure to step down from the posts of Prime Minister and party chairperson as a majority of the NCP leaders have asked him to do so owing to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his unilateral actions, bypassing the party.