KATHMANDU, Feb 28: A serious flaw in the white paper issued by the Nepal Trust has been exposed, with ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader and former home minister Janardan Sharma questioning the facts mentioned in the document.
The white paper has implicated former prime ministers and ministers in the parceling out of Nepal Trust land to interest groups.
The white paper, released by Defense Minister Ishwar Pokhrel on Tuesday, states that Sharma was chairperson of the trust in his capacity as home minister when it decided to lease out prime land in Tahachal to Thamsherku Trekking Pvt Ltd. The lease proposal was approved on October 24, 2017, according to the white paper. Thamsherku Trekking is a subsidiary of the Yeti Group.
But Sharma had already been relived of his responsibilities at the Home Ministry by the Deuba government on October 17. After the then CPN (Maoist Center) decided to forge an electoral alliance with the CPN-UML, then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba relieved all Maoist ministers in his government of their ministerial responsibilities.
As Sharma was a minister without any portfolio when the lease decision was taken, he might not have had any role in a decision linked to the Home Ministry. The Nepal Trust Act states that the home minister would be ex-officio chairperson of the Trust.
“I don’t understand why the white paper has deliberately mentioned my name even though I was not the minister concerned at the time,” said Sharma venting his ire in parliament on Thursday.
Sharma, an NCP lawmaker, has taken umbrage at a time when the ruling party leaders are divided over the appointment of a member of the upper house. “What is the intention behind mentioning my name and that of some former prime ministers while excluding the names of others?,” he fumed.
Sharma claimed that the white paper has exonerated some former ministers who were directly involved in the dodgy decision, all in the interest of the government.
“I wonder whether this report was intended to defame only those who have questioned corruption in this government,” he said, visibly irked.
On Wednesday, former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai also questioned the intentions of the government in implicating past heads of government over decisions taken at the Nepal Trust. NC President and former prime minister Deuba has likewise objected to the report accusing former heads of government and ministers who were not directly involved in the decision-making.