Oli weighs in for Paudel over Lalita Niwas land scam

Published On: May 1, 2019 07:00 AM NPT By: Republica


KATHMANDU, May 1: Prime Minister KP Oli on Tuesday said NCP General Secretary Bishnu Poudel had no role in registering public land as private property. Oli, who also heads the ruling party, said attempts to drag Poudel into controversy were nothing but a ploy to tarnish the party's image.

Stating that the attempt to implicate Poudel was a conspiracy, Oli urged the party's parliamentarians to defend the government and counter rumors spread against the party's leaders. Oli hinted at not taking any action against political leaders accused of involvement in procuring public land in collusion with the land mafia, bureaucrats and politicians.

“The party's general secretary has no role at all in the Baluwatar land scam. The attack against Bishnu Poudel is an attempt to weaken him. No need to be distracted by such attacks,” Oli said at the parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday. He also argued that the attack on Poudel was aimed at eroding the party's popularity.

“He purchased the land when the king was in power. He was not that influential then,” Oli said adding that they are stirring up a non-issue to slam the government instead of praising the good it was doing.

Although he defended Poudel, PM Oli also said he would leave no stone unturned to secure the return of land captured by the mafia, including land belonging to Lalita Niwas. He said the government would initiate a national campaign to recover all land grabbed by the mafia.

While Poudel himself has issued a couple of press statements to try and clear his name, this is the first time the party chief has weighed in on behalf of Poudel and waded into the controversy.Oli's remark comes at a time when the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police is investigating the Lalita Niwas land scam. The land mafia has been accused of registering 114 ropani under the name of private individuals although the state had already paid compensation for acquiring that land. Some plots , according to investigators, were given to influential politicians and bureaucrats to facilitate the transfers.

Poudel has been accused of procuring some of this land. Initial investigations point out that Poudel procured land at bargain basement in return for influencing government decisions. A section of ruling party leaders have meanwhile been demanding action against Poudel, saying his role was suspicious.

“I think the prime minister's statement is not convincing. The entire party organization will be further weakened if action is not taken against those accused of buying controversial public land,” said lawmaker Metmani Chaudhary. Chaudhary argued that the party's organizational strength and moral standing will weaken and its popularity will suffer if it continues to stand by the general secretary.

“The entire party should not be victimized just because of one individual in the party. So, it will be better if the party takes prompt action against those accused of wrongdoings,” he said .

The land mafia has been accused of registering 114 ropani under the name of private individuals although the state had already paid compensation for acquiring that land. Some plots , according to investigators, were given to influential politicians and bureaucrats to facilitate the transfers.

Poudel has been accused of procuring some of this land. Initial investigations point out that Poudel procured land at bargain basement in return for influencing government decisions. A section of ruling party leaders have meanwhile been demanding action against Poudel, saying his role was suspicious.

“I think the prime minister's statement is not convincing. The entire party organization will be further weakened if action is not taken against those accused of buying controversial public land,” said lawmaker Metmani Chaudhary.

Chaudhary argued that the party's organizational strength and moral standing will weaken and its popularity will suffer if it continues to stand by the general secretary. “The entire party should not be victimized just because of one individual in the party. So, it will be better if the party takes prompt action against those accused of wrongdoing,” he said .


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