KATHMANDU, Nov 23: Amid a public outcry against the latest move of the President’s Office to buy a new fleet of cars and expand the office premises, the government has come to the defense of President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
While stating that criticisms against the president had drawn the government’s attention, Minister for Information and Communication Technology Gokul Baskota, who is the government spokesperson, termed such criticisms an attack against the country’s top office. He argued that such criticisms will only embolden those who are against the historic achievements of the people’s movement of 2006.
“Some criticisms are against the institution and the system and people are attacking the institution unwisely or unknowingly,” said Baskota at a press meet held at his ministry Thursday to brief media about cabinet decisions.
Baskota clarified that the decision to purchase a new fleet of cars for the president and expand the presidential office and residence into the premises of the Police Academy was taken by the government in realization of the needs of the head of state. “Neither the institution nor the individual had sought or demanded the expanded facilities,” he added.
Stating that new vehicles had not been purchased for the president since the establishment of the republic, Baskota explained that Rs 180 million was allocated for a fleet of half a dozen cars for the president instead of buying a single vehicle.
Defending the decision to remove the police academy that adjoins the president’s office, the government said that the decision was taken some four years ago after India released a grant for building a new academy at Panauti, Kavre. “It will be better to have a helipad in the area so as to reduce traffic chaos during the president’s movements,” Baskota argued.
He also defended the decision to relocate the vice president’s office at the Social Welfare Council premises. “The office of the vice president was sharing the same building as the Election Commission, which was not suitable. The SWC office will be relocated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Baskota said the federal government has not discussed inviting Utter Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as chief guest at the Vivaha Panchami and the inauguration of the Janakpur-Jaynagar railway.
He said the government has decided to mark November 25 as Day Against Gender-based Violence and Mangsir 11 (November 27) as Social Security Day. The government also decided to provide one million rupees to the family of Fida Hussain, who was shot dead by an unidentified group on Wednesday.