KATHMANDU, FEB 05 – Senior CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli defeated party Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal in a vote on Tuesday to claim the Parliamentary Party (PP) leadership securing 23 more votes than the party chairman.
Oli defeated Khanal after hectic negotiations in the party Central Committee (CC) and several others closed-door meetings failed to reach a consensus on a PP leader.
Oli maintained that the party will be unified, while no political prejudice would be evident in decisions. “We will move ahead in a very friendly manner,” Oli said.
Backed by the majority of party stalwarts including Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam, Oli secured 98 of the total 173 votes, while Khanal elicited just 75.
The second largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA), the UML, had elected the PP leader for the first time in its two-decade long parliamentary history.
The elected PP leader Oli said he will do his best to coordinate the party and parliamentary front and play an effective and constructive role on all fronts. “There will be no prejudice against you [lawmakers] regardless of your choices in the election,” Oli said, addressing party leaders and journalists at Singha Durbar. “We asked you to exercise the democratic process and you adopted it independently.”
Oli said he will focus on constitution-writing and building a stronger party in the days ahead.
In his address to party cadres, leaders and journalists after the defeat, Khanal said Oli ’s victory was a victory for his party, for democracy and for Nepalese people. “We all are on the same ground. We will achieve a lot once we stay united in constitution-writing and building the party,” said Khanal.
The internal equation of the party dramatically altered after Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam, originally supportive of Khanal, announced his support for Oli . Oli , who stood third-in-line for the post, had emerged stronger following support from Vice-chairman Bidhya Bhandari, General Secretary
Ishwor Pokharel and Secretaries Bishnu Poudel and Shankar Pokharel among others.
Oli had been competing for the post of the party chief since the seventh general election held in February 2003.
In 2009’s Butwal General Convention Oli was defeated by Khanal after he withdrew his candidacy at the last moment in a bid to elect the then General Secretary Nepal as party chief.
Party insiders say however that he lacks inter-party negotiation skills due to his “opposition mentality.”
“Like an experienced lawyer, he [ Oli ] argues to weaken opponents due to his opposition mentality that has developed from the very beginning of his stay in jail during Jhapa bidroha,” said General Secretary Pokharel.
Even some party insiders argue his presence as the head of the parliamentary party will distance the UML from the former rebel UCPN (Maoist) in the coming days.