Crucial meeting of Nepal's ruling communist party begins; PM Oli absent

The much-awaited meeting of Nepal's ruling communist party to iron out differences between Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and the rival faction led by former premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal ''Prachanda'' finally took place on Tuesday despite the former's absence.

The crucial Standing Committee meeting of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) took place after it was postponed seven times to allow Oli and Prachanda more time to sort out their differences.

Prime Minister Oli did not appear at the meeting, said Ganesh Shah, member of the Standing Committee and a senior leader of the NCP.

On Tuesday also the meeting was deferred by two hours as the two leaders sought some time for informal discussion to settle key issues.

The Standing Committee meeting started at around 1.20 pm on Tuesday at Prime Minister's official residence at Baluwatar in the national capital, Shah said.

Senior leader of the party Dev Gurung told the media that the meeting started with the consent of Prime Minister Oli, though he did not attend it.

Shah said the meeting will discuss a power sharing deal among top leaders of the ruling NCP.

It is also likely to fix the date for the 441-member Central Committee meeting of the party that would play a key role in settling the power sharing deal among senior CPN leaders.

The 45-member strong Standing Committee meeting is expected to decide the fate of Oli, who is facing strong pressure from the dissident group led by Prachanda to step down from the top post.

Top NCP leaders, including Prachanda, have been demanding Oli's resignation, saying his recent anti-India remarks were "neither politically correct nor diplomatically appropriate." They are also against Oli's autocratic style of functioning.

The differences grew further after Oli said that some of the ruling party leaders are aligning with the southern neighbour to remove him from power after his government issued a new political map incorporating three Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura.

The Prachanda-Nepal faction rejected Oli's allegations, saying it is them who have asked for resignation, not India.

Prachanda has said that he will not allow the party to split and any attempt from anywhere to weaken its unity would hurt the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.

Prachanda on Monday said efforts were going on to resolve the intra-party differences and ruled out an early general convention of the party as proposed by embattled Prime Minister Oli.

"Going for the general convention is not a bad idea but without proper preparations, it is not possible as various issues including the party ideology also need to be sorted out," Matrika Yadav, a Standing Committee member, quoted Prachanda as saying at the meeting.

Prachanda's remarks came amid reports that he had reached an understanding with Oli on holding the general convention by November/December and that the prime minister would back him as the party chair. 
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