National Assembly vice chair Urmila Aryal feels betrayed by PM Dahal

Kiran Poudel 16 Mar 2024
National Assembly vice chair Urmila Aryal feels betrayed by PM Dahal (From left) PM and Maoist Center Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and National Assembly Vice Chairperson Urmila Aryal and National Assembly Chairperson Narayan Prasad Dahal.

KATHMANDU: Urmila Aryal has been active in the Nepali communist movement for a long time. She is the vice-chairperson of the National Assembly. However, her position as the National Assembly vice-chairperson has become uncertain due to betrayal by her party leadership.

Aryal said she is now considering stepping down as Prime Minister and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has failed to live up to his commitment.

Although Dahal had promised the position of National Assembly chairperson to Aryal, another Maoist Center leader, Narayan Prasad Dahal, has been elected to the position. The new ruling coalition of Maoist Center, CPN-UML, Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) agreed to support Maoist Center’s candidate for the National Assembly chair, with the vice-chair going to UML. Maoist Center’s Narayan Prasad Dahal has already been elected National Assembly chairperson as per the agreement.

The agreement to elect a UML candidate to the position of vice-chairperson, however, was removed when ruling alliance partners signed a new agreement after bringing CPN (Unified Socialist) on board.

Aryal is not the only one accusing Dahal of betrayal. Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula has also stated that Dahal betrayed him. Sitaula has already expressed his dissatisfaction to Dahal.

Aryal was elected National Assembly vice-chairperson on February 6 last year. She was initially unwilling to contest for the position. However, she agreed after Dahal promised to make her National Assembly chairperson after two years.

“I was not interested in this position. It is like a ceremonial post. Also, the National Assembly vice-chairperson is not represented in the Constitutional Council,” Aryal recalled her past.

Sitaula was elected to the National Assembly on January 25. The previous ruling alliance of Nepali Congress and Maoist Center had reached an understanding to make Sitaula the chairperson of the upper house. Aryal was not worried by that understanding because Dahal had expressed commitment to elevating her to National Assembly chairperson.

“I had felt that other Maoist Center leaders wouldn’t stake their claim in the position since Chairman Dahal had already given me assurances,” Aryal shared.

Maoist Center became certain to get the position of National Assembly chair after the formation of a new UML-Maoist Center alliance. Aryal was assured of getting the position. However, Narayan Prasad Dahal’s name started circulating in the party meetings all of a sudden. Aryal tried her best to stake her claim but failed. “I made a lot of efforts. But nobody proposed my name,” she shared.

According to a Maoist Center office-bearer, not a single leader proposed Aryal for the position. “Chairman Dahal telephoned office-bearers and asked them to make a unanimous decision on Narayan Prasad Dahal. Everybody complied with the chairman’s request,” the office-bearer said.

Narayan was accordingly named the party’s candidate for the position, and he was elected with a two-thirds majority.

Aryal still doesn’t know why Chairman Dahal proposed Narayan’s name. “We both had four years of our term remaining. I wouldn’t have been hurt if the party had selected leaders having a full six-year term for the position,” she added.

Narayan Prasad Dahal has also made a lot of contributions to the party. A party whole-timer since 1980s, he was actively involved in the decade-long armed insurgency. However, many say that he has risen through the party ranks just because he is Chairman Dahal’s brother. He drew similar reactions after he was elected National Assembly chairperson.

After Narayan was elected National Assembly chair, Aryal met Prime Minister Dahal and reminded him of his words. “I failed to live up to my commitment,” Aryal quoted Dahal as telling her. “He (Narayan) told me he would become National Assembly chair. I couldn’t say no as his wife is suffering from cancer.”

Even Dahal’s daughter and personal secretary Ganga had reminded the Maoist Center chair of his commitment. “You had given her your words. You shouldn’t have betrayed her,” Ganga told Dahal, according to Aryal.

Dahal replied, “I indeed gave her my word, but couldn’t fulfill it,” Aryal said.

Aryal has now asked Chairman Dahal to make her Maoist Center’s parliamentary party leader in the upper house. Dahal has assured her that he would take a decision after holding talks with Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

Shrestha is Maoist Center’s parliamentary party leader in the National Assembly and is currently serving as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Aryal has told Dahal that she would relinquish the position of parliamentary chair once Shrestha steps down from government.

Aryal said Dahal didn’t say anything when she offered to step down from her position as National Assembly vice-chairperson.


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