KATHMANDU, Dec 11: The rivalry in the CPN-UML between two factions -- one led by Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and the other led by KP Sharma Oli -- resurfaced at the Central Committee meeting on Monday, although it had been patched up earlier this year.
The division between the two factions became very clear at the meeting on Monday when several members close to Khanal strongly objected to the party´s decision to change work divisions among the party leaders while some other leaders, loyal to Oli, defended the standing committee decision.
Some members, including Surendra Pandey, Ghanshyam Bhusal, Yogesh Bhattarai, Jeevan Ram Shrestha and Thakur Gaire, came down heavily on the party leadership for removing Arun Nepal as chief of the party´s Europe department and Rajendra Pandey as chief of the state affairs department. Bhim Rawal and Asta Laxmi Shakya replaced Nepal and Pandey respectively.
But other leaders such as Karna Thapa and *Khagaraj Adhikari countered their arguments, saying there was no point objecting to a decision that had already been implemented.
A meeting of the Standing Committee some months back had made changes in the work divisions. Oli managed a majority against Khanal in the party´s elite body, with support from other key leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel.
"Many of us [Central Committee members] strongly objected to the changes made by the Standing Committee with regard to the work divisions of some leaders and today we demanded that the Central Committee correct the decision," Yogesh Bhattarai told Republica.
"We had to object to the decision because some leaders are overloaded with responsibilities whereas some competent leaders remain deprived of any important role in the party."
He argued that the work divisions made by the Standing Committee were "unbalanced" and not judicious in view also of competition mainly from the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and emerging regional political forces.
Karna Thapa, who is loyal to Oli, described the other members´ objection as untimely and an attempt to sensationalize a non-issue.
"There is no point demanding a reversal of the decision because it has already been implemented and these are not permanent work divisions either," Thapa told Republica.
Adhikari had argued that there was no point questioning the legitimacy of a standing committee decision because the party has been working as per many decisions taken by the same body in the past.
Until last year, the UML leadership and party rank and file were vertically divided into mainly two factions -- one led by Khanal and the other led by the two top leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal and KP Sharma Oli.
The leadership managed to patch up the factional feuding after Khanal proposed to elevate Oli to third position in the party hierarchy and settle other intra-party disputes accordingly.
Some party leaders believe that the "unity between the rival factions" did not last long as the Oli faction again tilted toward Nepal and Pokharel instead of remaining loyal to the deal reached with the Khanal faction.
Before the "patch-up deal between the Khanal and Oli factions", the groups led by Oli and Nepal had stood united against the Khanal team for over two years.
Neither the Khanal nor the Oli faction commands a majority on its own in the party committees without support from Nepal and Pokharel.
The alliance among Khanal, Oli, Nepal and Pokharel becomes significant also because the party rank and file have already started planning for the next leadership to be elected from the party´s general convention to take place after one year.