NC drags PM’s name in press kickback scam

Kathmandu, February 21

The main opposition Nepali Congress alleged that the needle of suspicion in the Gokul Prasad Baskota audiotape scandal pointed towards Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, as Baskota was heard asking Bijay Prakash Mishra, an agent of a Swiss company, how much commission ‘we’ would get in the security printing press procurement deal.

Baskota, who held the communications and information technology portfolio in the Oli Cabinet, resigned from his post yesterday after the audiotape was leaked to media outlets.

NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said Baskota had used the word ‘we’ in the audiotape which could mean that other people from the government, including the prime minister, could be involved in the scandal. “Baskota is a close aide of the prime minister. He was staying at the PM’s Balkot residence and was the voice of the government,” Sharma added.

Chairperson of Samajwadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav said there should be an impartial investigation into the Baskota audiotape and the facts of the case should be made public.

Senior leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Jhalanath Khanal said the Baskota audiotape scandal could not be taken lightly and would be discussed threadbare in his party. Asked to comment on the NC’s demand that the PM should inform the Parliament about the audiotape scandal, Khanal said the PM would do so without any hesitation.

NCP leader Beduram Bhusal said the NCP would investigate allegations against Baskota, as well as his assets, as the party had decided to probe the assets of all party leaders. An NCP leader said Baskota was responsible for his actions, but if the investigation pointed towards involvement of others, the party would also investigate their role.

A day after Baskota resigned as minister of communications and information technology over the audiotape scandal, NCP Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal said corrupt practices could ruin the party.

Inaugurating Narayan Bilas Joshi Memorial Academy in Bhaktapur today, Dahal said communists around the world lived up to the communist ideals while fighting for their cause, but became victims of greed, anomalies and corrupt practices after attaining power. He said the same was true for Nepali leaders as well and there was a need to save the party from such practices.