Nepal Political Crisis 2020: Communist Party Split

The continual internal power struggle in the ruling communist party of Nepal (CPN) – especially between Oli and Prachanda – has finally broken the unity of the largest party as PM Oli dissolved the parliament.  The PM Oli’s United Marxist and Leninist (UML) and Prachanda’s Maoist Center had joined hands in the last elections in which as combined forces they won a simple majority. But this split is more complicated because it is not only between UML and Maoist, but Oli’s opponents from UML itself have sided with Prachanda. And the CPN currently has two different Central Committees- one led by Oli, and the other by Prachanda-Madhav Nepal faction. Most members have left Oli, but Oli as PM and also with the President Bidhya Bhandari on his side, is still on the driver’s seat.

Oli, who managed and suppressed the tensions in the several past episodes of infighting, has this time been pushed to the edge. Prachanda and his UML allies, reportedly, had the following plans: table no-confidence motion against Oli in the parliament as most members were deserting Oli; bring impeachment motion against the President Bidhya Bhandari, Oli’s close ally; oust Oli by replacing himself as the next PM; make Oli’s opponent UML senior leader Jhala Nath as the next President; and make Madhav Nepal his co-chair ( Madhav is now the newly elected co-chair) . Now the Madhav-Prachanda factions are claiming to inherit the CPN as rightful owners, Oli as PM has shown his power in locking the party office. In recent tensions, Oli had even threaten Prachand to take him to The Hague for his past war crimes.

Oli’s dissolution is challenged at the Supreme Court, which according to judges will take few weeks to make decision. Prachanda had even insinuated to some soft corner toward Oli by the Chief Justice Rana for their good ties, which he then took back to escape contempt of court charges. The Court’s decision in the past has gone either way – the ball is on SC now. In the meantime, Oli’s opponents sound confident that the parliament will be restored, as does Oli on his decision to dissolve it and call for elections next year. Although Oli has been widely criticized for his authoritarian-type ruling in the party and the government, Nepalis who are long disillusioned with politicians do not believe that any change in leadership will make things any better. Oli’s move has however given a huge blow to somewhat stable governance since 2015’s issuance of new constitution, and there is fear all around that the nation might revert back to highly unstable and volatile situation.

On the latest – Prachanda-Madhav faction has declare to take to the streets against Oli and gone to election commission to accept them as legitimate CPN and claim the election symbol Sun; removes Oli as Parliamentary leader and Prachanda replaces him; Oli has decided to take action against Prachanda, but has not ousted Prachanda from the party; some members on both sides are having cold feet – former Maoist rebel leader Badal decided to come back to Oli; erstwhile spokesperson Narayan Kaji is sacked from his position and many more.

Some good reads on the national English media on the crisis:

Politics of Dissolution: Unresolved for Seven Decades

Nepal’s One Party Two Central Committees system

Communist Party’s Fragile Unity Falls Apart