The visits and programmes of the ruling party in the Maoist-affected areas, have jolted the leaders of the UML out of their deep slumber. Opposition leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has started visiting these areas, and has stated that there is a certain amount of friendship between the Maoists and the UML.
While the government has asked for help from all political parties in solving the problem, the main opposition party\'s role appears dubious. On the one hand, it says the Maoists are their friends, and therefore have to be helped. On the other, the UML finds its cadres being attacked by the Maoists.
The internal strife in the UML is not helping matters. The tussle for leadership between Nepal and K.P. Oli is making the low-level cadres restive, and the war of words between Ishwor Pokhrel and Pradip Nepal is only adding to their discomfort. Both Nepal and Oli, in the name of strengthening grassroots cadre, are in fact straining at the leash to take over the leadership.
The feud between the top comrades will be on luff display when the party\'s student\'s wing, the ANNFSU, holds its 15th convention in Butwal.from 17 September. Oli is regarded as wielding considerable clout in the student wing, and Nepal will be all set to try and clip his wings. It was in Butwal that the ANNFSU held its 6th convention, where it split. A repeat maybe in the offing at the party level.
While Oli has considerable following among certain sections of the UML membership, including women, Nepal is facing rough weather in calling the shots. But Nepal has always had tricks up his sleeves, and has shown particular flair in turning decisions in his favour, So the stage is set for a classic showdown at the ANNFSU meet-Nepal leaving nothing unturned to get the students\' backing, and Oli hopes to consolidate his standing. The confrontation will be all the more interesting when both men pitch for their own candidates to the ANNFSU top post.
If the UML is not to be struck by the Nepali Congress bug, it will have to get its act together. Its reckoning as a party of some national strength in many ways depends on how its students\' meet goes.