Home minister's tweet sparks social media furor

Published On: April 18, 2017 05:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Nidhi's commitment to polls questioned
KATHMANDU, APRIL 18: At 2:41 am on Monday, Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi posted a tweet, expressing his doubt over the preparedness of the Election Commission and security agencies for maintaining law and order situation during the upcoming local-level polls, and stressing the need for prior settlement with agitating forces.

Just hours after the tweet -- termed by some as “a normal message delivered by wrong person at wrong time” -- Nidhi, who, as a Home Minister, is responsible for maintaining security, found himself at the receiving end of a social media furor, with hundreds of people questioning his sincerity towards holding the elections on stipulated date of May 14.

Nidhi also became the target of the main opposition CPN-UML and the Election Commission. UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai, who is also the party's spokesperson, said the Home Minister acted like one of the leaders of the agitating parties. He urged Nidhi to resign and join the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF).

The EC issued a statement, stating it is Nidhi's ministry that is responsible for election security, not the EC.

After the early-morning tweet landed in controversy, Nidhi later on Monday again took to twitter to “correct his mistake”, stressing the government had completed all preparations for the polls. He, however, insisted on bringing the agitating parties on board.

“Preparations of the EC and security arrangements have been excellently completed. This isn't just enough for any elections. The participation of political parties is a pre-requisite for any elections-so we need initiations and dialogue,” Nidhi tweeted.

Although Nidhi's latest tweet was able to some extent to contain the anger of Twitteratis and Facebook users, experts said the home minister's tweet raised a big question on whether the local polls would be held on May 14.

The tweet also suggests growing rift within parties in the ruling coalition. Following Madhesi parties' announcement to boycott the polls, Nidhi and several other NC leaders, including Shekhar Koirala, have been pressing for the deferral of the polls until the agitating parties come on board. 

Nidhi's tweets have made Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal further suspicious about the Nepali Congress' position on the elections, according to his aides. 

On Sunday, Dahal had asked NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to clarify his stand on the elections.

“If looked from the PM's point of view, it should be seen as noncooperation from the mome minister. But we hope it is just his personal opinion, not the home ministry's,” said Narayan Dahal, the prime minister's administrative advisor.

Many others were far less critical of Nidhi's tweet. They said Nidhi's tweet should be taken a casual comment and it is normal for a Madhesi leader to make such comments at a time when his constituency protesting against the polls. They said the comment could be an attempt to appease the Madhesi constituency amid mounting pressure.

“140 characters cannot properly reflect a person's state of mind. It's useless to debate on it,” said a political commentator, adding it was a regular message delivered at a wrong time by a wrong person.

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