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A case of double standards

Nepali Congress appears to be pushing for good governance now but it has often been kind to or defensive of those involved in crime and corruption inside the party.

Kathmandu: Nepali Congress has been demanding a probe on the alleged involvement of incumbent Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane in misuse of cooperatives funds. It obstructed the House proceedings for over two months demanding a formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the matter.

On Thursday, Congress and CPN-UML lawmakers nearly came to fisticuffs on the House floor over whether to allow the Home Minister to speak in parliament or not. While Congress demanded that the House obstruction would not be lifted unless the formation of a parliamentary probe committee on cooperative fund misuse, ruling parties insisted that the Home Minister should be given a chance to address the issues raised in parliament against him.

Nepali Congress leaders, from General Secretary duo Gagan Kumar Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma to other leaders, have projected it as their battle against corruption and misrule. Thapa has even called for reinvestigation of all corruption cases, including property investigation of leaders, since 1990, the demand that Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) has been raising in recent years. 

Nepali Congress has either been silent about, defensive or protective of its leaders convicted in, or accused of, corruption.

But the recent history of Nepali Congress shows that  it has either been silent about, defensive or protective of its leaders convicted in corruption and murder cases or accused of corruption. The DMN News enumerates some cases here: 

Take the latest case of party president Sher Bahadur Deuba and general secretary Gagan Thapa garlanding the statue of Khum Bahadur Khadka (who died in 2018). Khadka’s statue was made with the budget from the Lumbini provincial government. Arjun Kumar Shrestha, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Planning of Lumbini province from Nepali Congress,  had allocated one million rupees from provincial coffers to build his statue. 

Khadka, an influential leader within the party at a time, was handed an 18-month sentence and around 10 million rupees fine in a corruption case involving amassing wealth illicitly while in office.

In 2015, a Congress minister decided to grant Rs 3.5 million to him as compensation to his damaged house during Maoist war and his treatment. 

The party was defensive of another Congress leader Bal Krishna Khand, who was arrested in the fake Bhutanese refugees scam. The party has not even suspended him from the post of Central Committee Member. 

It was under the pressure from the party leadership that Yog Raj Dhakal, aka Regal, a murder convict affiliated with the Nepali Congress who had murdered Chetan Manandhar in cold blood in 2015, was given presidential pardon by the government last year. Thanks to the Supreme Court, he is back in jail.  

Mohammad Aftab Alam  is in jail on charge of murder of at least 23 persons in Rautahat in 2008. But the Congress president, without compunction, is in favor of releasing him. Deuba said in 2021 that he will free Alam from jail

One of the egregious cases of mockery of rule of law was the defense from the entire Congress fraternity in the case of a murderous  attack on Professor Prem Chalaune. Then Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dhanraj Gurung did not only approve the proposal to withdraw the case against Chalaune’s assailants from the court but also tried to justify the attack on the TU professor by the members of the student union affiliated to Nepali Congress.  The Supreme Court later invalidated the government decision but Congress appeared to be united to ensure that Chaulane would not be served justice.