Sustained pressure from all quarters has forced the Maoist party in Nepal to refuse a grant given by the government it leads to a Maoist expedition team which included chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda's son Prakash.
The Maoist-led government came under severe criticism this weekend for its decision to provide support of over INR13 million to an 11-member team aiming to climb Mount Everest this summer with the stated objectives of ‘promoting peace and constitution'.
While opposition parties had organised protest rallies terming as the ‘heights of nepotism' and ‘arbitrary use of the treasure', social media networks were dominated by discussions about the misuse of state coffers. Most newspapers put the issue on the front page and Mr. Prachanda's son was ironically equated with Paras Shah — the notorious former crown prince of the Shah dynasty which the Maoists helped dislodge. Even left commentators blasted what they termed as the “degeneration” of the Maoist party.
Government sources confirm that it was party pressure that led to the decision to provide financial support.
Organising a press conference at the Maoist office here on Sunday, the expedition team said they would not take the government's support as the issue was unnecessarily ‘politicised'. They however clarified that the trek, named as ‘Lumbini-Sagarmatha Peace March' would go ahead and they would raise funds on their own. “We have taken this decision to respect the wishes of the Nepali people. We would urge the government to give the amount to the conflict victims, and families of the martyrs and disappeared,” Mr Prakash Dahal told reporters.
Ms. Bhattarai denies charge
Meanwhile, media reports on Saturday also alleged that Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had put pressure on the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) to nominate his daughter, Manushi Yami Bhattarai, as a member. Dr. Bhattarai told The Hindu that he did not even know about the nomination and the allegation was baseless. Ms. Bhattarai issued a clarification, saying she would not take up the membership.
Speaking to The Hindu subsequently, Ms Bhattarai, who is an elected student union leader at the Tribhuvan University (TU), said, “The international cricket stadium is within the university premises, and there are often negotiations between students and cricket authorities.
The TU was also recognised as a separate team in the national games. I had been nominated in that capacity.
The PM did not even know about it.” She added that she gave up her position since she did not want political critics to gain ammunition against the government in these critical times.