Dahal’s latest remarks may reflect fear of his own peer

By Narayan Upadhyay

PrachandaKathmandu, June 2: A new round of debate on power sharing has gained pace within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lately, thanks to NCP chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda.’

Chairman Dahal, in a recent television interview, surprised one and all when he stated that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli should hand him the rein of government once he completes the two-and-half year mark of the five-year long premiership.
While making his statement, Dahal referred to the agreement which he himself and Oli had inked last year, just a day before the formal unification of their two parties- the erstwhile UML and the Maoist-Centre.
In the five-point agreement, which was leaked after Dahal made his remarks, PM Oli and Dahal had agreed that each of them would head the government for an equal period. In what many felt as a tepid warning to the PM, Dahal said that no one could simply imagine what would happen next if the concerned side did not heed the agreement.
There is still about 15 months left for PM Oli to reach the halfway mark of his five-year tenure, but what had led Dahal to drop the bombshell, that too at a very ‘sensitive time’ when PM Oli was attending the swearing-in ceremony of his Indian counterpart in New Delhi?
It appears Dahal is apprehensive of the growing clout of PM Oli in the government and in the ruling party. Chairman Dahal might have opted to raise the agreement issue only to send his message across that his role and presence in the ruling party must not be lessened or overlooked and he deserves his share of power as mentioned in the agreement.
Many within the NCP believe that Dahal’s claim to have equal share in powerful posts is nothing but a ploy to pile pressure on PM Oli to hand him the role of sole chairman in the party while Oli enjoys premiership by giving up party chairman’s role.
It is a common belief that a large section of leaders and cadres belonging to the erstwhile UML would not be happy if Dahal is allowed to rule the party as its sole chairman.
The remark of Dahal may appear well on the mark for his supporters, but it is sure to encourage his detractors to seek justification of his statement, which he has made much before the agreement to take effect. Similarly, the statement seems to have been made based on a pure hypothesis that the PM and another party chairman, Oli, would not respect the agreement.
The uncalled-for remarks will certainly have a negative impact on the unity of the NCP, which enjoys two-thirds majority in the Parliament, because it may divide the party rank and file in some way.
Because the untimely remark has not only raised the heckles of many former UML cadres, but it has also displeased PM Oli. In the meantime, the same remarks will encourage many of his critics to portray him as a restless, power hungry leader, fearful of his own peer in the party, PM Oli.  

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