Sajha Prakashan Board chairman Dolindra P. Sharma (Republica file photo)
KATHMANDU, Sept 3: It has been revealed that four members of Sajha Prakashan Board including chairman and general manager Dolindra Prasad Sharma have resigned from their posts. However, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha has suspiciously delayed to approve their resignations.
The then education minister Chitra Lekha Yadav had appointed Sharma as the general manager (GM) of Sajha Prakashan on January 19, 2015. GM Sharma was also appointed chairman on July 26, 2015. His term ended in January 2017. In January 2017, Sharma was reappointed as the chairman and GM for four years while Dhani Ram Paudel was education minister.
Sajha Prakashan board members include nominated members Pradip Nepal, Dinanath Sharma and Dr Krishna Hari Baral and elected members include Bijaya Subba, Harihar Khanal and Jeevan Chandra Koirala.
“Four of us resigned from the posts a week ago,” said Nepal. “GM Sharma, Dinanath, Baral and myself signed the resignation letters,” he told Republica. “We handed over our resignations to GM Sharma for submitting it to DPM Shrestha. We don't know why Minister Shrestha has not approved it yet,” he added.
Prof Baral also admitted that he resigned from his post following the controversy in Sajha publication. “I signed the resignation letter as per our agreement to resign from the posts,” he confirmed.
However, GM Sharma could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
However, DPM Shrestha said that he has not received the resignation letters from Sajha board members. “I have heard that they submitted their resignation letters to the ministry but I am yet to receive them,” he claimed.
DPM Shrestha has been accused of not taking action against GM Sharma, even after the panel formed by the ministry recommended sacking the Sajha management board.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) on July 27 formed the probe committee headed by Ganesh Dhakal, undersecretary of Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the MoE that included Resham Sigdel, undersecretary of the Law Section and Bhola Nath Paudel, accounts officer of the MoE. On August 3, the MoE removed Paudel from the panel as GM Sharma appointed Paudel's wife Nabina at Sajha after the formation of the panel and the ministry nominated Sunita Khanal, accounts officer at the Department of Education to replace Paudel.
The panel submitted its report to DPM Shrestha about two weeks week ago recommending immediately sacking the Sajha management committee and taking action against the culprits involved in the irregularities.
DPM Shrestha said that he was not the authority to take action as per the report. “We prepared the report as per the request from the anti-graft body and parliamentary committee,” he said. “They will take the necessary action.”
It is suspected that Minister Shrestha is disinterested in taking action against the board headed by GM Sharma by ignoring the recommendations of the panel. “Minister Shrestha did not show interest in taking action against Sharma after former education minister Chitra Lekha Yadav along with GM Sharma visited him in the ministry a week ago and told not to take action,” the sources claimed, requesting anonymity. “Former education ministers Paudel and Agni Kharel also have been putting pressure on Shrestha not to take action against GM Sharma.”
Sharma, chairman and general manager of Sajha Prakashan, has been accused of appointing those close to political leaders and media persons at Sajha, not carrying out audit after he was appointed at Sajha, not maintaining records of annual incomes and book publications, allowing private publishers to use Sajha logo, transferring Rs 5 million from Sajha to GM's account, and also serving as chairman against the rules.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament has been investigating the irregularities at Sajha Prakashan. The Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has also already started investigating Sajha issues after news reports were published in Republica and Nagarik dailies.