Nepal's ruling CPN-UML appeared to be headed towards a split with its faction led by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli threatening to take disciplinary action against those taking part in the party's rival group's national gathering beginning here on Wednesday, according to media reports.

The Communist Party of Nepal-UML's rival faction led by Madhav Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal has organised a two-day national cadres meet where around 2,000 leaders and cadres representing all wings of the party are expected to take part.

The Oli-led faction has threatened to take disciplinary action against those who will attend the event organised by the Nepal-Khanal faction on Wednesday and Thursday.

However, the rival faction said they would go ahead with the programme as planned, reports said.

Accusing Nepal and Khanal of anti-party activities, Prime Minister Oli said, "I hear that they are going to organise a national cadres meeting tomorrow where they will also pass a report. I can no longer tolerate anti-party activities." According to a report in myRepublica, CPN-UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel in a statement directed the party leaders and cadres not to attend the factional gathering, arguing that the UML had not organised any such event.

He warned of disciplinary action against those attending the "unauthorised" gathering.

Pokharel asked party members not to organise the factional meeting against the party's discipline.

"The CPN-UML issues special directives to all party leaders and cadres not to attend such indisciplined factional gathering," the statement said.

Rift cause

The rift between the CPN-UML faction intensified after the rival Nepal-Khanal faction demanded Oli to take back his March 12 decisions that divested leaders close to the duo of key responsibilities in the party.

On March 12, the central committee meeting dominated by the Oli-led faction nominated 23 new members to the party’s Central Committee (CC). It also nominated 23 former Maoist leaders who joined the UML as CC members.

Yogesh Bhattarai, a senior leader of the Nepal-led faction, said that Chairperson Oli is promoting factional feud in the name of holding party meetings, rejecting to abide by the verdict of Supreme Court and making attempts to split the party.

"The factional gathering organised by the Oli-led faction on March 12 has further deepened discomfort, distrust and suspicion in the party, taking the party toward a split," Bhattarai said.

He objected to the "unilateral decisions" taken by the party's central committee meeting on March 12 and demanded that they must be scrapped.

Prime Minister Oli's dissolution of the House of Representatives in December triggered a political crisis in the country. It led to Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda"-led CPN-Maoist Centre (MC) to split from the ruling NCP. Nepal and Khanal had also sided with Prachanda in seeking Oli's resignation as Prime Minister.

However, in a landmark ruling, the apex court last month reinstated the lower house of Parliament.

The political scenario in the country worsened after the Supreme Court recently nullified CPN-MC's merger with CPN-UML. The two parties had merged in May 2018 to form a unified Nepal Communist Party following the victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday called an all-party meeting to discuss contemporary issues amid the political crisis.

The all-party meeting by the President came at a time when the CPN (UML) appears to be headed for a split with Nepal on Tuesday accusing party Chairman and Prime Minister Oli of trying to divide the party.

However, some leaders at the meeting questioned the haste the President demonstrated on December 20 to endorse the Oli government’s House dissolution move, The Kathmandu Post reported.