Lawmakers seek prime minister’s views on corruption scandals

Kathmandu, February 25

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives today demanded that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli furnish his clarification on corruption scandals, especially the one involving Oli’s close confidant Gokul Prasad Baskota.

Some of the lawmakers even went to the extent of calling for the prime minister’s resignation, stating that he had lost moral ground to continue to hold the post of the country’s executive head.

Baskota resigned as the minister of communications and information technology on Thursday after the release of an audiotape in which he is heard negotiating kickback worth Rs 740 million with Bijay Prakash Mishra, local agent of a Swiss equipment supplier, in the government’s security printing press procurement deal.

The scandal also put Oli under pressure after Mishra reportedly claimed he had forwarded the audiotape to the PM some two months ago. Oli is being criticised for not taking action against Baskota despite being aware of the scandal beforehand.

NC lawmaker Gagan Kumar Thapa said the prime minister could not get away by saying he was not aware of scandals, such as those involving Nepal Trust, Yeti Holdings and optical fibre contract. Thapa demanded the HoR speaker’s ruling to the prime minister to furnish his answers to questions raised by lawmakers.

“If the PM knew about the scandals beforehand and did not act, he has committed a sin. If he says he was not aware of the graft carried out under his nose, it proves he is inefficient,” said Thapa. “Therefore, the PM has lost the mandate to govern the country. I advise him to take rest for the good of his party and the country.”

Another NC lawmaker Sanjay Gautam said Oli’s silence suggested he had lost moral ground to remain at the helm.

Samajbadi Party-Nepal lawmaker Sarita Giri said, “The NCP should replace socialism with commission-ism in its charter.”

Giri also cast aspersions on the role of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. She wondered whether the CIAA seized documents from the ministry of communications and information technology to destroy evidence.

Lawmakers also lambasted the government for its poor preparedness for coronavirus. They demanded that the government take measures to address concerns of hundreds of Nepalis living in South Korea where the deadly disease is spreading fast.