To submit or quit: Hamletian predicament of ten dissident leaders of CPN-UML

As ten dissident leaders are insisting on the implementation of the ten-point agreement, Chairman Oli and leaders close to him have turned deaf ears to the call.

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: On October 20, CPN-UML Chair KP Sharma Oli compared the ten-point deal reached by the ten-member task force of the party with Ektaare (one string musical instrument) and said the second-generation leaders should not keep playing it. Oli’s message was straightforward: the ten-point deal has become irrelevant and dissidents within the party should stop harping on it any more.

The ten-point deal, among other things, promises to reconstitute the party’s committees, bodies, and people’s organizations as per the organizational structure of the party before the merger with UCPN (Maoist Center.)

Oli’s statement generated waves of dissent within the party, especially among the second-generation leaders who have been consistently making the ten-point agreement their bottom line for rapprochement with the establishment faction. “Implementation of the deal is the only way to uphold the party unity,” they say. 

After Oli’s remarks, establishment leaders close to him have started to downplay the deal. UML leader Pradeep Gyawali, after a Standing Committee meeting on October 21, mentioned that almost 95 percent of the provisions in the deal is in the process of being implemented and thus there is no need to make it an issue any more. 

Following this, the second-generation leaders have upped their dissent within the party.

On October 31, UML Vice-chair Bhim Rawal resigned from the task force formed to implement the 10-point agreement accusing Oli of being non-committal to the agreement.

Another second-generation leader and Deputy General Secretary Ghanashyam Bhusal demanded, through a letter to KP Oli and Standing Committee members, that the 10-point agreement should be implemented. 

Root of dissent

The Supreme Court, on March 7, annulled the merger between CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist Center) bringing the two leftist parties back to their pre-merger status. 

The then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was already a divided house. Erstwhile CPN-UML leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal joined hands with Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) to raise voices against the ‘authoritarian’ rule of Oli. 

The dissent continued after the court’s verdict, leading to the parallel party activities in CPN-UML led by Madhav Nepal. Factional meetings and the formation of parallel committees became regular phenomena. 

Then in the third week of May, Oli and Nepal agreed to form a 10 member task force–with five members from each faction–to settle the party disputes and resolve the differences. Subash Nembang, Bishnu Poudel, Pradeep Gyawali, Shankar Pokharel and Bishnu Rimal represented Oli faction, while Surendra Pandey, Bhim Rawal, Ghanashyam Bhusal, Gokarna Bista and Raghuji Pant were the members of the task force from Madhav Nepal faction. 

After long deliberations, the ten-member task force on July 11 came out with a ten-point deal to resolve the conflict but the conflict remained. Finally, Madhav Nepal formed CPN (Unified Socialist) which the Election Commission authenticated on August 25.  A total of 14 lawmakers from CPN-UML defected to CPN(Unified Socialist). Oli and UML leaders close to him have questioned the legitimacy of Nepal’s party and are demanding the removal of the 14 lawmakers from their posts.

Reiteration on implementation of the deal and apparent refusal from the establishment to do so has pushed ten leaders into a strange situation: They do not feel welcomed in UML on the one hand and they have nearly foreclosed the option of quitting UML on the other.

At this point, ten leaders, who were earlier with Madhav Nepal, decided to remain within CPN-UML, to the chagrin of Madhav Nepal. The ten leaders to abandon Madhav Kumar Nepal in the last hour are Ghanashyam Bhusal, Bhim Rawal, Yogesh Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Raghuji Pant, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Bhim Acharya, Gokarna Bista, Yubaraj Gyawali and Amrit Bohara.  

Since then, ten leaders have reiterated the implementation of the ten-point agreement. But Oli and leaders close to him have turned their deaf ears to the call. 

As they are struggling inside UML, the leaders from the establishment have been claiming that nearly all the concerns raised by the ten dissidents have been addressed. Speaking to Nepal Live Today earlier this week, Rajan Bhattarai, Central Committee member of UML,  dismissed the claim of persecution against the ten leaders.  He said that of the total 77 district committees, the issues of all the 75 districts have already been resolved and that the issues remain only with Sunsari and Taplejung districts.  “They are also soon going to be sorted out,” he said. “To not see the settlement of 97 percent of issues and only to amplify a couple of issues that remain is not being politically honest,” he added. 

“It takes time to resolve all issues.” 

Bhattarai, however, mentioned that the party is committed to implementing the ten-point deal. “We have always stood in favor of implementing the ten-point agreement,” he said.

Reiteration on implementation of the deal and apparent refusal from the establishment to do so has pushed ten leaders into a strange situation: They do not feel welcomed in UML on the one hand and they have nearly foreclosed the option of quitting UML on the other.

Hamletian dilemma  

The dissident leaders Nepal Live Today approached for their comments refused to speak about the matter but political observers as well analysts argue that ten dissent leaders are faced with a dilemma: Stay in UML by accepting whatever, if at all, is offered to them by the leadership or stop complaining about the non-implementation of the ten-point deal. 

Speaking to Nepal Live Today last month, political analyst Hari Roka said the second-generation leaders abandoned Madhav Nepal and joined hands with KP Oli while knowing about the space and position Oli will offer. “In my view, they have no other option than accepting whatever Oli may offer them,” he said. 

Dr Indra Adhikari, another political analyst, said that the bottom line of the implementation of the deal is only for face-saving. “Our second-generation leaders are turning out to be opportunistic, incapable of taking risks even for the good cause,” she added. 

According to her, they are left with only a handful of options. “They may be thinking their political career will be safe if they follow Oli’s doctrine and actions and accept whatever he offers. The current situation for them is like either surrender to Oli or put a political career in danger,” she said.

Adhikari also argues that Madhav Nepal is partly responsible for the predicament these leaders are facing at the moment. Madhav Nepal also failed to safeguard their political careers which, she said,  made them stay in UML, she said.