Paudel under pressure to quit as minister of youth and sports

KATHMANDU: With CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli mounting pressure on Minister of Youth and Sports Purushottam Paudel to put in his papers, intra-party rift in the UML has widened.

Following the promotion of controversial member of the National Sports Council Keshav Kumar Bista to NSC Member Secretary, Oli directed Paudel, who is considered close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, to either correct the decision or tender his resignation.

In Bista’s appointment letter, Minister Paudel has stated, “As per the Sports Development Act 1992, I appoint you as Member Secretary of National Sports Council with effect from June 25.” Ironically, the Asian Games Preparation Working Committee formed by the MoYS — headed by Minister Paudel himself – had on October 18 suspended Bista for one year after he was found guilty of helping sepak takraw player Aman Pode to go missing in South Korea during the 17th Asian Games. Bista was manager of Nepali sepak takraw team in the Incheon Games.

The committee had asked NSC to take departmental action against the culprits.

If the party decides to recall Paudel, he will be the fourth UML minister to be sacked. Karna Bahadur Thapa was sacked as industry minister, while Bhim Acharya and Deepak Chandra Amatya were asked to resign as tourism ministers on charges of poor performance and violating the party’s directives.

Recently, an Oli loyalist, Kripasur Sherpa, replaced Deepak Chandra Acharya as tourism minister.

Asked whether the party had decided to recall minister Paudel, UML Secretary Pradip Gyawali said the party had not taken any decision to that effect.

Earlier in the day, irked by media reports of Oli’s directive to Paudel, leaders of Madhav Kumar Nepal faction met to dwell on the unilateral decision of Chairman Oli.

Paudel said he talked to Oli, who urged him to correct his decision to appoint Bista as NSC Member Secretary, while Nepal has told him that party would take a decision on the fate of Paudel as minister.

However, UML leader Shankar Pokhrel claimed that Oli had the sole authority to appoint or recall ministers from the party.

Paudel said he would abide by the decision of the party but claimed that he had done nothing illegal.