Why govt let massacre-accused Resham Chaudhary take oath

Published On: January 4, 2019 07:18 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 4: Although the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) had long been demanding that the government facilitate the administering of oath of office and secrecy to murder-accused Resham Chaudhary, who was elected to the House of Representatives (HoR) from Kailali, the government had so far been dilly-dallying over the matter.

But on Thursday, the Oli government did a U-turn on its stance that it would do as required only after there was a final court verdict on the Tikapur massacre case. The government instructed the jail authorities to take Chaudhary from Dilli Bazar jail to the Parliament Secretariat at Singha Durbar. Police had filed a case against Chaudhary alleging that he was the mastermind behind the Tikapur massacre in August 2015 in which seven police personnel and a little child were killed. 

Many are curious what made the government change its mind, especially since Prime Minister KP Oli himself has termed Tikapur an act of terrorism and Chaudhary a criminal. 

Ruling party insiders and the agitating RJPN said the government was under pressure to do something about addressing the RJPN demand. During their meeting with Prime Minister Oli, top RJPN leaders had warned that they would withdraw their support from the government and launch fresh agitations if their demand was not met.

Besides issues related to the amendment of the constitution, the RJPN had been pressuring the government to let lawmaker-elect Chaudhary take his oath of office and secrecy. The government came under additional pressure after the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), a coalition partner in the government, also threw its weight behind Chaudhary.

Although a decision by RJPN to withdraw its support will not bring the government down, the ruling Nepal Communist Party has political reasons for not wanting to lose the support of Madhes-based parties. 
RJPN intensified its demand for administering oath to Chaudhary, who is considered close to RJPN coordinator Rajendra Mahato, especially after Mahato assumed the post of coordinator of the party in November 2018. Sources said RJPN had hinted at some compromise in its demand for constitutional amendments in return for administering oath to Chaudhary. 

Earlier, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, while getting Chaudhari to break his fast-unto-death at Bir Hospital, had promised to make arrangements for administering him the oath. Party insiders said NCP Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also urged Prime Minister Oli to facilitate the oath-taking. 

Talking to media after the oath-taking ceremony Thursday, RJPN coordinator Mahato said Chaudhary deserved to be administered the oath since he was elected by the people. “So far as the court case is concerned, we believe the court will also provide him justice,” he said. 

On other demands including releasing other party cadres arrested in connection with various incidents during Madhes protests and amending the constitution, Mahato said the struggle would continue. RJPN leaders said Prime Minister Oli has already promised to form a task force to study the demands for ca constitutional amendment.

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