CPN Chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal have talked about the agenda for the party's secretariat meeting scheduled for Thursday.
The meeting at the prime minister's residence in Baluwatar Wednesday evening discussed the agenda for Thursday's secretariat meeting including the report submitted by the Bishnu Paudel led task force formed to resolve the internal dispute in the party, according to Dahal's press coordinator Bishnu Sapkota.
The meeting was earlier scheduled for Saturday but was postponed to Thursday after Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwore Pokharel and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, both of whom are secretariat members, had to home quarantine after a staffer who would frequently go to the COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC) office in Chhauni tested positive for COVID-19. Both Pokharel and Thapa have tested negative since.
The party is also set to discuss who to send to the National Assembly as Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada will not be eligible to continue as minister after Saturday.
The issue of taking Bam Dev Gautam to the federal parliament is again roiling ruling CPN.
The party's secretariat on February 26 had decided to take Gautam to the National Assembly. Prime Minister (PM) and CPN Chairman KP Sharma Oli on May 2 then offered to take Vice-chairman Gautam to the House of Representatives (HoR) to bring Gautam to his faction from that of fellow Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.
But Oli did not take Gautam to the HoR and now Gautam, who in February had stated that he will go to the National Assembly only if the Constitution were amended allowing a National Assembly member to become PM, is insisting that he wants to go the National Assembly.
He wants to be nominated by the president in the seat vacant after Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada's term ended on March 3 after two years following drawing of lottery. Khatiwada is still serving as minister despite not being a federal lawmaker but he can no longer after September 5 as it will be over six months without him being a lawmaker.
Oli wants to again nominate Khatiwada to the National Assembly and continue him as finance minister. "PM Oli advised Gautam on August 28 to vacate the Dolpa constituency and contest for HoR. He again repeated the advice two days later," a Baluwatar source confided with Setopati.
Gautam had not responded then but he met Oli at Baluwatar on Monday and demanded that he be taken to the National Assembly. Gautam clearly hinted that he wants to go to the National Assembly and become deputy PM and finance minister.
Gautam argued that while PM can choose whom he wants to make a minister, he should be taken to the National Assembly as the party has already taken a decision to that regard. Oli listened to Gautam but did not respond, according to the source.
Gautam then went to Dahal's residence in Khumaltar and sought his help.
Oli has already told Dahal and secretariat members that Khatiwada should again be taken to the National Assembly and continued as finance minister arguing there are no other competent persons to handle the economy in the current difficult situation. He is pointing that only Khatiwada can face the challenges when revenue is falling, and other countries including China and India are not providing necessary assistance during the pandemic.
"PM Oli opines that others cannot coordinate with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and other agencies and countries to bring in assistance," the source added. "He has already conveyed that to other leaders and is also satisfied with overall performance of the finance minister."
It is still unclear whether other members in the nine-strong secretariat will support Gautam if he were to insist he be taken to the National Assembly. Senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal says that the party has already taken decision about taking Gautam to the National Assembly and only implementation of the party decision remains.
"It will not be easy for us to not support Gautam if he tells the secretariat that he wants to go to the National Assembly. But it is yet not clear how firmly he maintains his stance," another secretariat member confided.
But the Oli camp argues that the decision to take Gautam to the HoR on May 2 has already replaced the one taken on February 26 to take him to the National Assembly, and the issue of taking him to the National Assembly has already ended.