Policies, programmes pass Parliament after PM pacifies UMLMain opposition obstructed House after allegations by a Maoist MP of misappropriations in gold used in Pashupati.
Countering his party lawmaker’s statement, Prime Minister and CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal argued on Saturday that it was wrong to drag the leader of the main opposition in the controversy relating to the jalahari installation in Pashupatinath temple.
Addressing a meeting of the House of Representatives, Dahal said as the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority was probing the alleged irregularities, it was unnecessary to blow up the issue in Parliament.
Following the agreement, the UML lifted its obstruction of Parliament, which later endorsed the government’s policies and programmes with majority votes. The National Assembly had endorsed it earlier on Tuesday. Now the government can unveil its annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which is presented every year on Jestha 15 [May 29 this year] as per a mandatory constitutional provision.
“The Pashupati Area Development Trust was the sole authority to decide how to use gold in jalahari. It is wrong to drag the leader of the opposition into it,” he said. “The statement claiming brass was used instead of gold in jalahari can be expunged from parliamentary record.”
The UML had on Friday obstructed the House objecting to the statement from Lekh Nath Dahal, a Maoist Centre lawmaker, who had claimed that brass was used instead of gold in the jalahari installed during the prime ministership of KP Sharma Oli. He had indirectly blamed Oli for irregularities when the UML chief led the government.
Jalahari is the foundation on which the Shivalinga stands and from where the water and milk offered by devotees flow out. The UML had demanded an apology from the Maoist lawmaker and clarification from the prime minister on the matter.
Several meetings among the cross-party leaders on Friday failed to resolve the matter. But on Saturday, the top leaders from three major parties reached an agreement to end the House obstruction.
The understanding was reached at a meeting of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML, and the CPN (Maoist Centre) held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singha Durbar.
According to UML Chief Whip Padam Giri, the agreement was possible after Prime Minister Dahal assured the UML that the allegations and remarks by Maoist lawmaker Lekh Nath Dahal would be expunged from Parliament’s records.
Based on the agreement, Speaker Devraj Ghimire directed the Parliament Secretariat to erase the particular wordings from Lok Nath Dahal’s statement in the record.
Then prime minister Oli, after an hour-long special puja at the temple on January 25, 2021, had announced that the government would provide necessary funds for the procurement of gold for the jalahari.
Then, despite much criticism, the jalahari was installed on February 25, 2021 after a special puja by then President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
The Supreme Court had issued an interim verdict to halt the installation after much of the work had been done. The petitioners back then had argued that the government’s decision to install the jalahari went against the Ancient Monument Preservation Act-2013, which states that structures over 100 years old must be preserved in their original design.
The constitutional anti-graft body is investigating the alleged case of corruption. A total of Rs800 million was spent on buying 103.755 kg gold that was supposedly used.
The report states that 96.822 kg gold was used for the foundation of shivalinga while 10.976 kg was said to have been used in the rings of the jalahari. However, the auditor general’s report points to the lack of details to prove that the said quantity of gold was used in the rings. The report mentioned that 2.89 kg copper, 1.249 kg silver and 12.75 gram zinc was mixed with the gold.