Power-hungry Bam Dev’s personal interest frustrates party leaders

Nepal Communist Party

KATHMANDU, Feb 24: Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam’s hunger for power and continuous push for the constitution amendment only to pave way for him to become the prime minister is taking a toll in the ruling party.

Gautam, who had expressed a desire to become the prime minister before the 2017 election, lost to Nepali Congress candidate Sanjay Gautam from Bardiya-1 and failed to become a House of Representatives member.

But his desire for prime minister’s post has continued. 

The party had even convinced the Kathmandu-7 House member Ram Bir Manandhar to resign so that it could be field Gautam from the constituency, but the plans did not materialize owing to criticisms within the party.

A central committee meeting of the ruling party amended the party statute clearing the way for Gautam to become the vice-chair. He was recently elevated to the post.

But this has not filled Gautam’s stomach.

The party recently decided to recommend Gautam as the National Assembly member, but he is demanding an amendment to the constitution fit to his desire, paving way for a National Assembly member to become the prime minister.

The Election Commission recently conducted the election of the 59-member NA to replace the 19 members whose tenure is due to expire next month. The ruling NCP won 18 seats and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, who dramatically announced an electoral alliance with the ruling party on the eve of the elections, won two. 

Gautam will be appointed as the NA member by the president.

Article 76 of the Constitution of Nepal states that the President shall appoint the leader of a parliamentary party that commands a majority in the House of Representatives as the Prime Minister. A National Assembly could only be appointed as a minister or a deputy prime minister.

The ruling party on Monday formed a three-member task force under the leadership of senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal to hold consultations and provide suggestions for amending the constitution. Subash Nembang and Khimlal Devkota are other members.

Oli, whose position in the party has weakened recently, is already in minority in the nine-member secretariat. Majority of the secretariat members including Gautam have aligned with party executive chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who also share good relation with Nepal.

The exercise has been described as Oli’s move to win the favor of Gautam even though the prime minister, according to party sources, does not want an amendment. 

And the amendment plans which only benefit the interest of an individual has upset the leaders within the party. 

Nembang, who is loyal to Oli, was surprised to learn about the task force. Nembang argued that the constitution cannot be amended to serve the interest of one person.

NCP standing committee member Keshav Badal warned that the move could blow serious damage to the party reputation.

Furthermore, NCP does not have a two-third majority to amend the constitution. Samajbadi Party quit the government after Oli refused Upendra Yadav’s proposal to form an expert recommendation committee to do homework for the constitution amendment during a cabinet meeting.

Although Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) share a close relationship with the ruling party of late, the regional party is unlikely to support the amendment proposal only to clear the way for Gautam to become the prime minister since RJPN itself has a long list of issues which remain unaddressed for years.

Also, the ruling party should not forget that amendment in the constitution just to serve the interest of a small portion of the party could anger the public who have been deprived of their rights and privileges.