Swatantra Party picks Kansakar to replace sacked lawmakerTwo leaders of the new party lost their parliamentary seats within two-and-a-half months.
The Rastriya Swatantra Party expelled its lawmaker Dhaka Kumar Shrestha from the party on Wednesday.
“The party scrapped the general membership of Shrestha. His lawmaker post has gone vacant and the party has nominated Bindabasini Kansakar to replace Shrestha,” party chair Rabi Lamichhane said after the central committee meeting held at the party’s central office in Kathmandu.
Within six months of establishment, the party emerged as the fourth largest in the House from the major polls held in November last year. But within months, two of its lawmakers have already lost their parliamentary positions.
Earlier on January 28 the Supreme Court had stripped party chair Lamichhane of his lawmaker status stating that the citizenship certificate he produced to contest the election in November was invalid. Now, Shrestha has lost his parliamentary seat on bribery charges. The party immediately nominated a member to replace Shrestha as he was elected under proportional representation category, but the Election Commission is holding bypolls in Lamichhane’s seat because he won election directly from a constituency in Chitwan-2.
The Central Discipline and Conduct Committee had, on Tuesday, conducted an hour-long interrogation with Shrestha. It had recommended that Shrestha be stripped of his position of lawmaker and expelled from the party as a general member.
Lamichhane claimed that the party will fully coordinate in the investigation of the country’s corruption watchdog Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). He said that Shrestha did not mention anything about the core team while he was asked to name them. “We have zero tolerance towards corruption. So, as our findings showed that it was his voice in the leaked audio, we have taken action against him,” said Lamichhane.
In the leaked audio, a voice, allegedly of Shrestha, demands Rs20 million from another person, presumably the controversial medical entrepreneur Durga Prasai, so that Shrestha can become health minister and “bring about radical reforms in the health sector in tandem with Prasai.” It appears that Shrestha and Prasai had engaged in a phone conversation to discuss the same on January 15 and the recording was leaked on Sunday.
After the incident, the Rastriya Swatantra Party had suspended Shrestha from both lawmaker and party membership. Likewise, a complaint has also been lodged at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to investigate the case.
Shrestha, earlier, organised a press meet when the central committee meeting was underway. He claimed that the audio was leaked to frame him. He said, “This audio was brought as part of a conspiracy. The audio made in mid-January has been made public now, which means they plan to attack the party from all sides. It is a plan to defeat the party in the upcoming by-election.”
Another tape was also leaked on Monday in which a voice allegedly of Shrestha’s brother says he wants to talk to Prasai.
After the audio-leak, many of Shrestha’s past wrongdoings have been brought to light. He had been running a hospital in Pokhara, even though he only had a licence to operate a medical store. He used to operate the Sathi Kisan Krishi Cooperative Limited, which has refused to return the money of its depositors for months now. Shrestha had left the organisation last year, handing over the leadership to Shani Pathak. But the new leadership of the cooperative could not start working as the old leadership had failed to maintain proper account books.