The CPN-UML’s scheduled election has been delayed after the party leadership struggled to find consensus, with too many aspirants, mostly from chair KP Sharma Oli’s side, refusing to budge from their stance.
On Saturday, delegates during the closed session authorised Oli to pick office bearers and Central Committee members for the next five years. The decision, however, has met with severe criticism with some within the party, including Bhim Rawal, calling it an undemocratic process.
Rawal has decided to throw his hat in the ring against Oli for the post of party chair and has already started his election campaign. Similarly, there are too many aspirants for 19 office bearers.
For the one post of senior vice-chair, Subas Nembang and Ishwor Pokhrel are in the race. Both are considered Oli’s close aides.
The Central Committee meeting of the party late on Friday night had revised its statute to increase the number of office bearers from 15 to 19 and the number of Central Committee members from 225 to 301 in a bid to select the leadership through consensus.
As per the revised statute, there will be one chair, seven vice-chairs including one senior vice-chair, one general secretary, three deputy-general secretaries and seven secretaries.
The party statute envisions one general secretary but there are at least two claimants from Oli’s side–Bishnu Poudel and Shanker Pokhrel.
Leaders say Oli wants Shankar Pokhrel, the former chief minister of Lumbini Province, as the new general secretary of the party. But Bishnu Poudel, who was elevated to the post of general secretary after the UML and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) merged in May 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), too has laid claim to the post. Poudel was made deputy general secretary after the Supreme Court invalidated the NCP in March this year and revived the UML and the Maoist Centre to the pre-May 2018 stage.
For three posts of deputy-general secretary and seven posts of secretary also there are too many aspirants.
Pradeep Gyawali, Binda Pandey, Prithvi Subba Gurung, Yogesh Bhattarai and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi among others are in the race.
For seven posts of secretary, there are at least a dozen aspirants, all from Oli’s camp.
If the party had followed its earlier schedule, voting should have started early on Sunday morning. Since electronic voting machines are being used, results were expected by evening.
“We are all prepared for the polls and waiting for the presidium to give the nod,” said Bijay Subba, chairperson of the Central Election Commission of the party. “Leaders are still trying to forge consensus.”