Govt, parties mum on slur against Mahara

Kathmandu, October 4

The government and parties, both ruling and opposition, don’t seem ready to speak on rape allegations against Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who resigned as the House of Representatives speaker on Tuesday.

The government has been shying away from adopting an official position on the episode, evidenced by the fact that it has not yet called a Cabinet meeting since the incident came to light and its decision to cancel a weekly press briefing scheduled for yesterday which observers said was to ‘avoid questions’ related to allegation against Mahara.

Moreover, neither the ruling and opposition parties nor their lawmakers, barring a handful, have spoken strongly on the matter holding the government accountable and seeking an independent and fair investigation.

What’s more, women lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties are also silent on an issue in which an employee of the Parliament Secretariat has accused Mahara of rape.

Shashi Shrestha, lawmaker representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), said,  “Whoever the person is or whatever post he holds, he must be punished if found guilty,” she said. “At the same time, we must not reach a conclusion just on the basis of allegations.”

When asked why women lawmakers were not pressing the government to carry out fair investigation into the allegation, Shrestha said it was difficult to take a position on the matter amid differing statements coming out every day. “I hope police will do their work,” she said.

Pushpa Bhusal Gautam, whip of the main opposition NC, said they were initially hopeful that fair investigation would be carried out given how promptly the ruling party asked Mahara to step down as speaker and police reached the incident site.

“But differing views on the statement and the government’s silence give us enough reasons to suspect that the government and ruling party are trying to politicise the episode and let it fizzle out over time,” she said.

When asked why the NC was mum on the issue, she said the party’s first statement immediately after the incident came to light was to press the government for fair investigation. “However, since we have enough reasons to suspect that investigation will not be held fairly, we must act,” she said.

Brikhes Chandra Lal of opposition Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal said if the rape allegation was not true, the government should tell why it was made, and if it is true, whoever was guilty should be punished as per the law.

“The government must carry out fair investigation and tell why Mahara went to the victim’s apartment and why he thrashed, if not raped, her,” said Lal. “Since the victim called police complaining about the incident, no written application or other formality is required to carry out investigation.”