Nepal's ruling CPN-UML's meeting forms 24-member parliamentary board

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Kathmandu, Mar 18 (PTI) The parliamentary party meeting of Nepal's ruling CPN-UML, led by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, formed a 24-member parliamentary board and three-member statute amendment task force on Thursday even as leaders of the rival faction boycotted the meet, according to media reports.

Over 100 lawmakers close to Oli, who is also the party's Chairperson, took part in the meeting held at the Prime Minister's official residence in Baluwatar.

The 27-member parliamentary board, which will be headed by Prime Minister Oli, includes leaders of the party's rival faction Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, myRepublica newspaper reported.

The board will be full-fledged after three more members are added to it, the report said.

Padam Giri, a lawmaker who attended the meeting, said it was also decided to form a three-member task force to amend the party’s statute.

The task force comprises party's chief whip Bishal Bhattarai, Bimala Rai Poudel and Sher Bahadur Tamang, it said.

“More than 100 lawmakers of the House of Representatives attended today's meeting,” Niru Devi Pal, who is a parliamentarian close to the Oli faction, said.

The next parliamentary party meeting has been scheduled for March 20 and all the lawmakers close to the Nepal-Khanal faction will also attend the next meeting, Sher Bahadur Tamang, UML (Unified Marxist Leninist) lawmaker, said.

Asked if the party was preparing to take action against those who did not attend it, Tamang said no such discussion was taken in the meeting.

The Prime Minister's call for the parliamentary party meeting came at a time when the Communist Party of Nepal-UML's rival faction led by Nepal and Khanal went ahead with the two-day national gathering of the party's leaders and cadres on Wednesday and Thursday.

However, amid growing factional rift in the party, the party's rival faction decided to boycott the parliamentary party meeting, a myRepublica report said.

UML lawmaker Surendra Pandey, who is close to the Nepal-led faction, said they will boycott the meeting while addressing the national gathering of some 2,000 leaders and cadres close to them in Lalitpur.

The Oli-led faction had threatened to take disciplinary action against those who will attend the event organised by the Nepal-Khanal faction.

CPN-UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, in a statement, directed the party leaders and cadres not to attend the factional gathering, arguing that the UML had not organised any such event and warned of disciplinary action against those attending the 'unauthorised' gathering.

Meanwhile, during the national gathering of cadres on Wednesday, Nepal said that Prime Minister Oli's arrogance, dictatorial behaviour, and tendency to promote factionalism in the party was the main reason behind the crisis in the party, The Himalayan Times reported.

Nepal said that he had urged Oli to revert the party organisation to its status before it merged with the CPN-Maoist Centre (MC) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and revive all the party committees that existed before the merger, but he didn't listen.

Nepal said that Oli even refused to discuss the COVID crisis and the party's strategies for socialist programmes.

'This gathering is aimed at uniting our party and taking our movement to a new height,' Nepal was quoted as saying in the report.

Nepal also presented a nine-page concept paper that will be adopted by the gathering after incorporating participants' inputs, the report said.

Nepal, in his concept paper, said that the gathering would make an important contribution to take the party towards a collective system, away from a private company that Oli had attempted to make it, the report said, citing a press release issued by the faction.

Yogesh Bhattarai, a key leader of the Nepal-Khanal faction, said that the gathering was not a precursor to a split in the party, but a resolve to strengthen party unity, stressing that the basis for the party unity would be to return to the May 16, 2018 status before the party merged with the CPN-MC.

The rift between the CPN-UML factions intensified after the rival Nepal-Khanal faction demanded Oli to take back his March 12 decisions that divested leaders close to the duo of key responsibilities in the party.

On March 12, the Central Committee meeting dominated by the Oli-led faction nominated 23 new members to the party’s Central Committee (CC). It also nominated 23 former Maoist leaders who joined the UML as CC members.

Prime Minister Oli's dissolution of the House of Representatives in December triggered a political crisis in the country. It led to CPN-MC to split from the ruling NCP. Nepal and Khanal had also sided with Prachanda in seeking Oli's resignation as Prime Minister.

However, in a landmark ruling, the apex court last month reinstated the lower house of Parliament.

The political scenario in the country worsened after the Supreme Court recently nullified CPN-MC's merger with CPN-UML. The two parties had merged in May 2018 to form a unified Nepal Communist Party following the victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections. PTI RS AKJ RS