Nepalis on social media take a dig at Oli over his criticism of a Kantipur cartoonThe Post’s sister paper ran a cartoon on Sunday of Oli wearing a crown and President Bidya Bhandari in his coat pocket.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s loathing for the media is not new. Over the past few months, it has just grown.
On Sunday, Oli reacted sharply to a cartoon published by Kantipur, the Post’s sister paper, in what comes as his growing intolerance of free press and freedom of expression, the two most cherished achievements of Nepal ever since democracy was reinstated in 1990.
Addressing a press conference at Baluwatar on Sunday afternoon, Oli expressed his strong dissatisfaction over the cartoon, calling it a misuse of the right to freedom given by democracy.
“How much they must have rejoiced in the disgusting act of making a huge cartoon of a ghost institution, and placing the president in its pocket in the name of democracy,” said Oli. “Monarchy is a dead institution. How dare they make such a macabre cartoon of that dead institution and put an institution that represents the people and a symbol of the republic in the pocket of a dead feudal institution?”
In the cartoon, drawn by Kantipur’s in-house cartoonist Abin Shrestha, Oli is seen wearing the crown with President Bidya Devi Bhandari in the breast pocket of his coat–a depiction of how Oli has made the President a pawn and how Bhandari has been complicit with Oli.
Abin’s cartoon was published two days after President Bhandari endorsed Oli’s House dissolution decision with promptitude.
After failing to be reappointed prime minister, Oli on Friday night, at 11:38pm, recommended that Bhandari dissolve the House and declare snap polls for November 12 and 19. President Bhandari followed the orders, issuing a notice of House dissolution and poll dates at 1:39am.
Social media was quick to react after Oli lashed out at the paper for publishing the cartoon.
“Utilising the right to freedom given by democracy, I am sharing this cartoon,” wrote @sanpokh.
“Under the rule of which king was it decided that publication of such news and cartoons will send out a bad message to the outside world?” @ChitrakarSanam wrote a satirical comment.
The cartoon on Sunday was garnering praises on social media from early morning, with many calling it an exact portrayal of the collusion between Oli and Bhandari.
“Good! He should be made aware of the mood in the country!” wrote @BigBlackYak, responding to eKantipur story with the cartoon on Oli’s reaction to the cartoon.
Another social media user said: “Congratulations!!! Wear it as your badge of honor,” said @sarojpkr, quote-tweeting the same story, who also changed his display photo with the cartoon.
“Useless prime minister!,” wrote @BlessingPanday. “While prime ministers of every other country are working to move forward, how to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, giving relief to the common public, how to achieve economic growth, our PM is complaining to a faction of journalists about which newspaper published what kind of cartoons that it did not show respect.”
This is not the first time Oli has taken issues with the Nepali media though.
In October 2019, Oli was not happy with the way Nepali media and journalists address individuals, implying that they refer to everyone as “timi” and not “tapai”, a respectful form of address in Nepali.
In January last year, Oli said that Nepali editors lacked a heart to praise the good work, in an indication that the Nepali media failed to see and report his government’s performance.
Oli’s aversion to media had become apparent also when his administration attempted to introduce the Media Council Bill, which experts said had strong provisions that would endanger free press and freedom of expression.