June 3, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
We have been advising the prime minister and top leaders of major parties that they should avoid petty programs like launching and inauguration of events. We have also been cautioning our leaders not to fall into the traps of interest groups—which could be active in the name of sister organizations and in which their own cadres may be involved. When prime minister and top leaders have done so, we have spoken against it. Be it in the case of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and his party colleague Pushpa Kamal Dahal having dinner meeting at the house of a controversial medical college owner Durga Prasai or Dahal celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary at the house of Niraj Gobinda Shrestha, one of the former owners of the Ncell telecommunications company, we have sent warning notes for two main reasons. First, business people and interest groups keep surrounding big leaders to get their unlawful things done, dragging the leaders into controversy, even scandal. Second, it is always necessary for politicians in power to keep away from dubious nexus of interest groups. Not doing so can have consequences including in erosion of personal image of the politician. Prime Minister himself suffered this consequence in the most recent case.
Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli was in Pokhara on Saturday to inaugurate, among other program schedules, a newly-built Swiss International Hotel Sarowar, which was built allegedly by flouting building standards set by Pokhara Metropolis. Locals knew of the shenanigans of the hotel owners and had been speaking against it from the very beginning. Prime Minister reached the hotel at 10 am to attend the program. The organizers asked all attendees including Chief Minister of Gandaki Province Prithivi Subba Gurung and federal and provincial ministers to enter the meeting hall. But then the guests were told the prime minister was resting for a while. Two hours later, he left the scene without inaugurating the hotel. It is not known whether the PM came to know about the controversial hotel while there and then decided to skip the program to teach the hotel owner a lesson or he did so to save his own face. In either case, Prime Minister and his advisor do not seem to have studied the situation well.
Our prime minister does not have to go about inaugurating every hotel or bridge unless they are of great national value. Even if he has to, he and his team should find out beforehand who the program is hosted by, whether the PM is being invited as a chief guest to serve the vested interest of some groups or whether Prime Minister’s participation contributes to greater good of general people, whether the organizers have some controversial record etc. Prime Minister should not have consented to inaugurate the hotel, the investor of which has been indicted by Special Court in corruption case. It must have been an embarrassing situation for the Prime Minister to know that (reportedly, PM declined to take part in the program after knowing the hotel building was made by floating rules) he was about to inaugurate the illegally built hotel. He could have avoided that embarrassment if he studied the matter well beforehand. He can avoid such embarrassment only if he distances himself from questionable characters and interest groups. Big leaders of other parties also have something to learn from Saturday’s embarrassing event.