‘Don’t party on Constitution Day’ and seven other outrageous remarks by Communications Minister Gokul BaskotaThe former tabloid reporter is neither new to the media for his controversial remarks nor does he ever shy away from telling you exactly what he thinks.
If there’s one leader in the current administration—other than Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli—who regularly trends on social media platforms for his boisterous, arrogant and often silly outbursts, it is Minister of Information and Communications Gokul Prasad Baskota. Since taking office last year, Baskota, who is considered to be close to the prime minister, has eagerly placed himself at the centre of a nonstop media storm, defending every controversial bill the government has tabled or passed—from the Medical Education Bill to the Media Council Bill and the Guthi Bill.
On Wednesday, once again, Baskota created a stir on social media after he said how people should observe Constitution Day holiday, and not “waste it by partying, going on a picnic, or hanging out with your girlfriend or boyfriend.”
Here are some of his most outrageous statements made since taking office, occasionally to defend the government, and at other times, to take a swipe at the media, portraying his—in his own words—“straight-forward nature.”
When he admonished the press for not giving priority to development works taking place in the country
On April 27, Baskota accused the majority of media of giving the least priority to development works taking place in the country. The minister also accused the media of wasting its energy in criticising the government.
When he dismissed the outrage over the Guthi bill
While residents of Kathmandu were pouring onto the streets of Kathmandu to protect their heritage and protested against the proposed Guthi bill, Baskota defended the bill and referred to guthis as “lingering remnants of feudalism” during his weekly press conference. Later, he denied having ever made such a statement in Parliament.
When he said journalists are not meant to know everything
Last year, during an interview with Ratopati, Baskota was asked why the Cabinet was delaying information on its decisions. His response: “There is no constitutional provision that says journalists need to know everything.”
When he said he’d give money to journalists who have written baseless news about him
At the parliamentary committee meeting in October last year, Baskota said he would give money to those reporters who have written “unnecessary things” about him.
“All the reporters who have written baseless news about me and blamed me of corruption, I will give you as much money as you want,” he said. The umbrella organisation of journalists condemned Banskota for making unethical remarks against them.
When he defended the controversial Information Technology Bill
Earlier this summer, Baskota told the Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives that restrictive provisions in the Information Technology Bill were for deterring people who post defamatory comments on social media platforms and that the bill did not pose a threat to mainstream media.
When he defended the agreement signed to host Bollywood’s IIFA Film awards
In July, after controversy swelled over the government’s plans to host the annual Bollywood Film awards by spending millions of rupees, Baskota said the government would not be spending a single paisa from the state coffers. But when Nepal’s agreement with Wizcraft International, the company organising the IIFA awards, was made public, the government was forced to backtrack. The agreement showed how Nepal would have to bear the cost for all of the guests’ travel expenses, accommodation and venue charges, in addition to Rs500 million in direct payment. The plan was finally cancelled.
When he said the government would ban more porn sites to make citizens civilised
Last year, the government moved to block close to two and a half million pornographic websites, saying they were ruining society and social values. In December 2018, Baskota touted the administration’s efforts and said: “I am working to ban 300,000 more porn sites to make citizens civilised and cultured.” Baskota appeared clueless about the use of VPNs, which still allow Nepali users to access every single porn website that the government has banned.