UML dissidents divided over finding solution from within party
THIRA L BHUSAL
KATHMANDU, Aug 10: A group of dissident CPN-UML leaders that lobbied for ethnicity-based federalism for months is divided over whether to seek solution to the intra-party dispute from within the UML or form a new party.
While some leaders including party Vice-chairman Ashok Rai and Rajendra Shrestha have concluded that the UML would not address their concerns and that there is no point in staying with the party, some other dissident leaders including Prithivi Subba Gurung, Ram Chandra Jha and Dal Bahadur Rana have decided not to quit the party immediately.
Instead, they plan to launch intra-party struggle.
Vice-chairman Rai said they were hoping in vain to get their demands addressed by UML. "There is no point holding discussions with UML leaders and hoping they would address our concerns," Rai told Republica. Rai, who also held talks with party Chairman Jhalanath Khanal on late night Wednesday, said there has been no change in the leaders´ mindset even after months of their struggle.
Rajendra Shrestha, who accompanied Rai during the talks with Khanal, said they decided not to hold talks with UML leaders anymore.
According to him, Khanal has admitted his failure to convince other leaders in the party on the proposal to revive the Constituent Assembly (CA), one of the demands pressed by the dissident leaders.
"We told him that there is no point holding talks with UML leaders as they have been taking one after another decision against the party´s policies on identity-based federalism endorsed by the general convention," Shrestha told Republica. "We just shook hands with the chairman and announced that we are going to set up a new force instead of holding meaningless talks."
But another group comprising Prithivi Subba Gurung, Ram Chandra Jha and Dal Bahadur Rana on Thursday afternoon was negotiating solution to the dispute over federalism with party Chairman Khanal and Secretary Bishnu Paudel.
Leaders present during the discussions said the talks mainly focused on setting an intra-party system to allow dissidents to take their views to the lower mechanisms of the party.
Lately some of the dissident leaders have been stating that they can continue to work in the party only if their group is allowed to lobby their agendas among the party rank and file. The party establishment has been saying that they can air their views in the party committees but can´t lobby their differing views.
Politburo member Gurung said they are still for seeking solution to the dispute from within the party.
Another leader Rana said Chairman Khanal was for resolving as many differences between the two sides immediately and finding a method to settle the intra-party disputes from within the party mechanisms.
"I am positive about allowing you [dissidents] to take your views to the party rank and file but the views should not contravene with the party policy. So, let´s discuss and set up a system that would be acceptable to all in the party," Rana quoted Khanal as saying.
They held broad discussions but didn´t take any decision as participation from both the sides was very low. The meeting on Thursday was coordinated by experts such as lawyer Sambhu Thapa and Dr Ganesh Man Gurung, both close to the UML.