Under mounting pressure to resign, Nepal’s beleaguered Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has downplayed the intra-party rift and said such disputes are “regular phenomena” that can be resolved through dialogue, as a crucial meeting of the ruling party was postponed by a week to give more time to the warring factions to reach a power-sharing deal.
Prime Minister Oli also vowed to protect Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst a border row with India.
In a previously unannounced address to the nation on Friday night, hours after the crucial Standing Committee meeting of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was postponed for the fourth time, Oli said that it is the duty of a political party and its leaders to resolve the internal matters and disputes.
The meeting of the NCP’s 45-member powerful Standing Committee was scheduled to be held on Friday. But it was postponed for a week at the last moment, citing floods and landslides that killed at least 22 people. Top NCP leaders, including former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, have demanded Prime Minister Oli’s resignation, saying his recent anti-India remarks were “neither politically correct nor diplomatically appropriate.”
But in his prime-time address, Oli tried to downplay the intra-party rift and growing demand for his resignation.
“It is natural for the people to wonder why parties are indulging in dispute while the country is beset by a pandemic and natural disasters,” said Oli. “Such disputes are regular phenomena that can be resolved through discussion and dialogue,” he added.
“I will assure all that I will make every effort to consolidate national unity, protect democratic republic and uplift national pride.”
Amidst a border row with India, the 68-year-old prime minister said, “I will also also commit myself to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
India’s relations with Nepal came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected Nepal’s claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.
Later, Nepal updated its political map through a Constitutional amendment, incorporating three strategically important Indian areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura.