KATHMANDU, July 17: The internal power struggle in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has intensified with a faction demanding resignation of party chairman Kamal Thapa in the wake of the party's dismal performance in the local elections.
RPP, the fourth largest party in parliament, has won just four seats so far in the local elections.
Several RPP leaders including Pashupathi Shumshere JB Rana, Deepak Bohara and Bikram Pandey have been directing the blame on Thapa. They claim that a host of factors including Thapa's leadership style, unsuitable choice of the election symbol, weak election campaign and uneven distribution of party resources were responsible for party's poor outcomes.
“Thapa should have resolved internal disputes of the party before going to the polls. We went to elections as two different parties. That is the main reason for the poor poll results. This is the reasons many are demanding Thapa's resignation,” said a leader close to Rana. Rana faction is planning to formally demand Thapa's resignation, the leader added. Many are unhappy with Thapa for denying promised share in the party's central committee. Majority of members in the party's central committee come from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal led by Thapa until it was unified with Rana led Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
Leaders close to Thapa said that the current dispute has nothing to do with the election results. They said that Bohara and Pandey are bargaining for ministerial berth in the new cabinet while Rana is using it as opportune moment to expand his influence in the party. Rana is upset with Thapa for not giving fair share to his faction.
“This is a deliberate design to weaken Thapa's grip on the party. Both internal and external factors are behind this,” said the leader.
Leaders from both sides said that the current disputes could potentially lead to party split if not addressed in time. Neither Thapa nor Rana have reached out to each other to find solutions.
RPP leader Mohan Shrestha, however, claimed that Thapa was holding talks with all leaders to resolve the issue amicably.
Observers are attaching huge significance to the tussle raging in RPP since it is likely to have adverse impact on constitution amendment and cabinet expansion.
The government will require support of RPP lawmakers to pass the constitution amendment bill which remains stuck in parliament since April. The last effort to pass the bill had failed after around ten lawmakers of royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party suddenly disappeared on the date of voting.