Lawmaker Kandel dismisses reports he is Indian citizen

Kathmandu, October 23

Nepali Congress lawmaker Devendra Raj Kandel, who heads the management committee of a college named after his grandmother Radha Kumari in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, today dismissed recent reports claiming that he was an Indian citizen.

Organising a press conference at the NC headquarters in Sanepa, Kandel said the school, Radha Kumari Bidhyalaya, was established by his grandmother in 1950 during the Rana regime in Thutibari, Gorakhpur, 200 metres from the Nepal-India border on the Indian side.

He said his grandmother decided to open the school on the Indian side of the border because the then Rana regime did not allow to open schools in Nepal back then. The school got approval from the Indian government on 31 January 1952 and now has been upgraded to Radha Kumari Inter College.

“Ever since the establishment of the college, it has been under the patronage of my family. First my grandmother was its patron, then my father Prithvi Raj Kandel, and now I am its patron,” he said. “How can I be labelled an Indian citizen just because I head the college’s management?”

According to Kandel, his address mentioned while taking oath as the college management committee head after his election was his temporary address, and he did not own an inch of land there. He said he stayed at his friend’s place whenever he visited Gorakhpur and he had mentioned the same address, C/O Yogesh Bajpayee, 33 Kasaya Road, Betihata, Gorakhpur during oath taking. “In my oath, I have just said the address of my residence was correct, and I have not said I am an Indian citizen,” he said.

He also said the list of voters of the college management committee published by the election committee—Assistant Registrar Firms Societies and Chits Gorakhpur Mandal, Gorakhpur— had mentioned his permanent address as Maheshpur, Nawalparasi. He also produced a copy of the list.

Producing relevant court documents before media persons, Kandel said his rival in the management committee election had filed a case at Allahabad High Court, stating that Kandel was a Nepali national, and that he could not head the college’s management committee.

“In my reply to the court, I have accepted that I am a Nepali citizen, a Nepali lawmaker and former state minister of Nepal. I have also stated that I can still head the college’s management committee on the basis of Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950, whereby a Nepali citizen can run a social organisation in India,” said Kandel.

“I am surprised that people in Nepal are trying to prove me an Indian at a time when I am fighting a court case in India in which my rivals want to prove me a Nepali citizen, which I have accepted.”

He also said if his name was found registered in any other electoral roll of India, he was ready to face action. He also reiterated that he did not own an inch of land in India, and did not have Indian citizenship. Acknowledging that he had acquired an Indian driving licence when he was studying in India, Kandel said any Nepali could acquire a driving licence in India and that did not prove that he was an Indian citizen.

He said his grandmother and his father were active members of the Nepali Congress. His grandmother was a member of the NC parliamentary committee in 2015, while his father was elected to the House of Representative from Nawalparasi in the general elections of 2015.

He also said the then rebels during the insurgency had fired 16 shots at him when he was state home minister in 2000. He said he still had one bullet in his chest.

“It is disappointing that I, a member of a family having long history of service to the nation, have been dragged into controversy on the basis of false information,” he said.