PM relieves Bhandari, Sah of ministerial posts, Justifies his move as instrumental to facilitate peace, statute process
Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Wednesday relieved Defence Minister Sarat Singh Bhandari and Minister for Land Reforms and Management Prabhu Sah of their posts.
“I want to inform the parliament that I have removed ministers Bhandari and Sah in the recommendation of their respective parties,” Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai announced in the Legislature-Parliament late this afternoon.
Opposition parties have been disrupting the parliament for the last one week demanding the ouster of the two ministers.
Opposition Nepali Congress and CPN-UML targeted Minister Bhandari for his controversial remarks that no law could prevent the 22 districts of Terai from seceding if Madhesi concerns were ignored.
Minister Sah was implicated in the murder of Kashinath Tiwari, a leader of Hindu Youth Association in Birgunj.
Earlier, a meeting of the political committee of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic decided to withdraw Minister Bhandari despite the objection of his supporters in the party.
With the removal of the two ministers, the obstruction in the House came to an end.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar will hold the Defence portfolio while Local Development Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi the Ministry of Land Reforms and Management.
Today’s House meeting, scheduled at 1 pm, commenced at 4:15 and ended shortly after PM Bhattarai delivered his speech. He was expected to inform the House one day ahead of his trip to India.
Speaking in the parliament, PM Dr. Bhattarai said that he removed the two ministers so that the parliament could
concentrate on tasks of peace and constitution writing.
“I urge all not to make this decision as a matter of victory or defeat. It does not aim at proving anyone guilty,” he said.
PM Dr Bhattarai also lamented that the Constituent Assembly (CA), whose main task was to frame the new constitution, was absorbed in other issues and acted more as Legislature-Parliament than as a CA.
“The parliament has been preoccupied in the regular issues. But, my belief is that the central task of statute writing should not be overshadowed as we are passing through the most sensitive period of transition,” he said.
He said that the issue of nationality was not an agenda of any particular party but of all.
“All parties should commit to sovereignty, integrity and independence,” he added.
The PM said that the government was committed to loktantra and rule of law.
“Since the signing of 12-point understanding, we have remained firm on democracy, national sovereignty and rule of law,” he said.
Dr. Bhattarai noted that the present coalition did not do anything that went against the comprehensive peace agreement.
He also said that the government would not withdraw any criminal case by violating the CPA.
The next meeting of the House will be on October 24.
MJF-D withdraws Bhandari
Prior to the PM’s decision to oust Minister Bhandari, the political committee meeting of the MJF-D decided to withdraw him from the cabinet.
“In order to end the current stalemate in the parliament, the party decided to pull out minister from the cabinet,” party chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar told media persons.
“To accomplish the tasks of constitution writing and peace process, and ease the political environment, we decided to withdraw Bhandari,” he said.
He said that the party presented an example of sacrifice and liberal attitude considering the current political situation.
Party spokesman Jitendra Dev said that the party’s decision provided with the example of sacrifice to end the impasse, and it was made to keep the current coalition intact.
He said that the meeting arrived at the conclusion that the inner intention of Bhandari’s statement was not wrong but its language and presentation were problematic.
At the meeting, Bhandari demanded that he should be allowed to speak in the parliament to put forth his views on nationality.
He left the meeting in the middle when his demand was not met.
Bhandari supporters chanted slogans against party president Gachchhadar and announced agitation against the decision, citing that it was against Madhes.