K P Sharma Oli meets Nepal Army chief ahead of key meeting today

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire
| Kathmandu |

Published: July 6, 2020 1:11:18 am

Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli’s handling of relations with India has worsened division in the ruling party. (File Photo)

Unwilling to yield to party pressure to step down from his post, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli met the Army chief Sunday, fuelling speculation that he may go in for some tough measures, including promulgation of an ordinance, to retain power.

General Purna Chandra Thapa called on the Prime Minister — this was their second meeting in two days — after informal talks between Oli and party rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ ended abruptly.

Prachanda, sources said, insisted that he would settle for nothing less than Oli’s resignation from the posts of Prime Minister and chair of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Oli and he are the two chairpersons of the party.

Oli, sources said, was willing to hand executive powers of the party to Prachanda, but was in no mood to give up the posts.

A key meeting of the party standing committee was deferred from Saturday to Monday to give time for back channel moves to keep the party intact.

Sources said Oli and Prachanda were willing to part ways at the meeting Sunday, but other leaders, including NCP general secretary Bishnu Paudel, intervened and sought time until Monday morning to hammer out a working arrangement.

There is deep division in the ruling party over Oli’s functioning in general, and his handling of relations with India in particular.

Days after he steered a constitution amendment Bill to get parliamentary sanction for Nepal’s new map that includes three territories with India (Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura), Oli alleged that India and a section of the leaders in Kathmandu were plotting to remove him from power.

Angry party members said he had put the government and the party in a difficult spot with unsubstantiated charges and must step down.

On Saturday, Oli warned of stern measures, and claimed efforts were on to dislodge not just him but also President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. Through the entire crisis, the President has backed the decisions of the Prime Minister.

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