NC ends parliament obstruction after 4-pt deal to probe cooperatives including Lamichhane-linked Gorkha Media

Published On: May 29, 2024 10:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 29: The main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), has lifted its parliamentary obstruction following an agreement among major parties to form a parliamentary probe committee to address the problems of cooperatives across the country.

The seven-member parliamentary inquiry committee includes lawmakers Badri Pandey and Ishwari Devi Neupane from NC, Surya Thapa and Sarita Bhusal from the ruling CPN-UML, Lekhnath Dahal from the CPN (Maoist Centre), Shishir Khanal from the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP).  The committee has been entrusted with the responsibility to submit its report with recommendations within three months.

The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the parliamentary probe committee was finalized in a meeting held on Tuesday, which was agreed upon by a Task Force meeting held at the Prime Minister's official residence in Baluwatar for three and a half hours on Monday evening. With the agreement on the TOR, the impasse seen in Parliament has come to an end.

The NC had been continuously disrupting Parliament since the second week of March, demanding the resignation of Home Minister Lamichhane, alleging that the money transferred to Gorkha Media Group from the Supreme Cooperative of Butwal and Suryadarshan Cooperative of Pokhara was embezzled.

On May 18, a Task Force comprising NC Joint General Secretary Jeevan Pariyar, UML Chief Whip Mahesh Bertaula, and RSP lawmaker Shishir Khanal was formed under the coordination of Law Minister Padam Giri to determine the ToR of the parliamentary probe committee.

The Task Force agreed on four points of jurisdiction on Tuesday and submitted it to Prime Minister Dahal.

According to these points, the first point involves studying and suggesting solutions for the crisis in cooperatives, including legal and institutional purposes, financial system regulation, supervision, and transparency.

The second point focuses on protecting the savings of those involved in troubled cooperative organizations, recommending ways to return savings that are at risk before they are misused.

Similarly, the fourth point of the agreement states that the parliamentary panel will investigate on the several troubled cooperatives including the fund embezzled by Gorkha Media Network to which Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) Chairman Rabi Lamichhane, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, is allegedly involved. 

Earlier, the Task Force could not reach a consensus as the NC insisted that the name of RSP President Lamichhane be included for investigation in the ToR of the parliamentary committee.

However, Prime Minister Dahal insisted on agreeing with the NC on this matter. He also went to Budanilkanth to meet NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to forge consensus on the matter.

Prior to that, Prime Minister Dahal also held discussions with NC Vice President Purna Bahadur Khadka, General Secretary Gagan Kumar Thapa, senior leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula, NC Chief Whip Ramesh Lekhak and Central Working Committee Member Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, among others.

However, despite reaching an agreement in the Task Force, no final agreement could be reached as the parties maintained their previous positions in all the previous meetings.

However, on Monday evening, NC Vice President Khadka, General Secretary Thapa, Sitaula, Lekhak, and members of the Task Force held intense discussion in the presence of Prime Minister Dahal and reached an agreement to form an inquiry committee without mentioning the name of Home Minister Lamichhane.

Even though it was agreed to write the name of the problematic cooperative, the NC did not give up its claim that the Managing Director of Gorkha Media Network should be mentioned. However, the NC was convinced to give up that demand during a meeting held on Tuesday morning.

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