A few days ago a minister of state, Karima Begam, publicly slapped a senior government official in latter’s office for not sending a better car to pick her up at the airport. Today the Prime Minister directed the Home minister not to take action against the culprit. Prime Minister chooses to save his chair at rather than performing his duty to uphold the law of the land. Nepal, the country, is doomed, friends.
Today: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has directed Home Minister Bhim Rawal not to take action against State Minister Karima Begam who physically assaulted a senior government official, fearing an imbalance in the political equation in the coalition government he leads, eKantipur reports. According to a source, the PM told the Home Minister that any action at present might affect the equation in the coalition. State Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Begam represents Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, the third largest party in the UML led coalition.
Tuesday, Nov 10: Karima Begam assaulted Durga Prasad Bhandari, the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Parsa. An enraged Begam grabbed Bhandari’s shirt collar and slapped him four times for sen-ding an old vehicle to receive her at Simara Airport. She was in the district to attend a programme. “I was preparing to welcome her when she attacked me without even hearing my explanation,” Bhandari said. He claimed the vehicle sent to receive the state minister was recently repaired and in good condition.
The minister had demanded a car from the District Development Committee (DDC), but Bhandari sent a vehicle belonging to the Agriculture Tools Office as the DDC’s vehicle was not available then. Begam justified her move ca-lling it action against an employee who did not heed a minister’s directive. She further accused the CDO of avoiding several meetings she had called to discuss security and development of the district. She said Bhandari had been sending old vehicles without the national flag to receive other ministers as well.
The reaction:Government employees in Parsa and Bara districts halted work to protest the state minister’s attack on CDO Bhandari. Begam, in turn, threatened to shut down Birgunj Bazaar if employees did not resume work. A public offence case has been filed against her and the police have issued an arrest warrant.
And..: The Home Ministry called back the beaten CDO to Kathmandu on Saturday (14 Nov). After attending at the ministry on Sunday, Bhandari has taken a seven-day leave.
The Begam from Birgunj who beat big bureaucrat: ‘Who is Karima Begam’ was probably the first thought in many minds when the incident occurred earlier this week. But those who know the 34-year-old closely describe her vividly. Her five-year-old political career has been fortune-fluctuated, a roller-coaster that she herself describes as ‘chequered’. “I got into politics by kismet (fate),” she says. “I was a housewife until 2004. Then I was picked as the district chief of the Women Forum of Nepal Sadbhavana Party.” But Begam came into the national limelight after the Tarai uprising in 2007. When the movement was at its peak, Begam turned to Upendra Yadav, who was leading the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum that was steering the movement. “She brought in more than 5,000 people on her own in Birgunj and that impressed me,” recalls Yadav.
Soon after, her party handed her the responsibility to lead the Women Forum of Parsa district. This mother-of-four-turned-politician was so quick to cash in on the responsibility that in no time, she shot up to the position of the central vice-chair of the Women Forum. Begam then established a pro-woman organisation called Bari Women Association. But last year, a group of women publicly accused Begam of embezzling organisation funds. In a political career that had just begun, it was a significant setback. “It seems she was framed,” says a central leader of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, Nepal—the party now she is with.
Begam cleared her grade 10 examinations from Motihari, in Bihar, India. Soon after, she was married to Mohammed Sallauddin. Her critics maintain that if it were not for the Tarai agitation, she wouldn’t have had a political career. “She did not have much political credential before she was elected to the Constituent Assembly,” said a CA member from Parsa, preferring anonymity. But that can be said about many other male leaders from the Tarai too. (more here)