KATHMANDU, Feb 17: The central committee (CC) meeting of CPN-UML on Saturday decided to remain prepared for an election government under the leadership of sitting chief justice (CJ) even as a majority of CC members were strongly against the proposal.
The party leadership was compelled to use ambiguous wordings in the formal decision due to CC members´ fierce criticism against top party leaders for accepting the UCPN (Maoist)-floated proposal of CJ-headed government.
UML, in the formal decision, pledged not to make any compromises on the basic democratic principles, including separation of powers, supremacy of constitution, independent judiciary and strengthening the role of political parties. However, the party at the same time has remained open to formation of an election government under the leadership of sitting CJ.
“Considering the inevitability of a political agreement, this meeting has decided to remain ready for various alternatives. But the party while taking a decision on government formation will firmly stand in favor of the basic democratic principles,” read the decision.
UML leaders in CC meet. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
The CC decision didn´t even mention “formation of CJ-headed government” and instead mandated the standing committee to take necessary decisions to this effect. The standing committee had earlier on Thursday decided to support the proposal.
Asked about what the decision implied, leaders minced their words.
Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam said the CC has mandated the standing committee to take a decision.
Another Vice-Chairperson Bidya Devi Bhandari said the meeting has kept all options open for the purpose of unseating the present government.
Key leaders, including Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, KP Sharma Oli, Bamdev Gautam, Bidya Bhandari and Bishnu Paudel have been lobbying in favor of the proposal while General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel and secretaries Shankar Pokharel and Yubaraj Gyawali are against it.
As CC members strongly objected to the proposal, the leaders decided to hold a standing committee meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing central committee meeting to forge consensus among the top leaders and to convince CC members on the proposal. But the standing committee itself stood divided as the general secretary and two secretaries Pokharel and Gyawali strongly objected to the proposal.
Later, some leaders including Pradeep Gyawali and Agni Kharel, as suggested by the top leaders, prepared a proposal and floated it for discussions but there was a serious division at the meeting hall. While CC members pressed the party leadership to categorically reject the proposal to form CJ-headed government, top brass repeatedly requested the CC members not to use direct language in the party´s formal decision.
According to a participant, at times members were aggressive and clearly divided and they demanded voting for and against the proposal.
Finally, the leaders again requested Kharel and some other leaders to prepare another draft of the decision. "The leaders decided to use ambiguous language as they sensed that the proposal is going to be defeated by an absolute majority of the committee," said a CC member.
Kharel opted to mention only the theoretical aspects of the issue and chose to remain silent on whether or not to accept the CJ-headed government. The last draft instead decided to entrust the standing committee members to take necessary decision without making any compromise on the basic democratic principles.
Lawyer-turned leader Kharel read out the draft proposal and explained it before CC members. Later, Chairman Khanal tabled the same draft for endorsement. The CC members endorsed the idea as it didn´t directly mention the CJ-headed government.
Unlike in the past, this time the top party leaders had a hard time as CC members objected to the proposal without being influenced by their factional leaders´ opinion.