Maoists, UML engage in tug of war on forming panel to probe gold haulWhile the UML demands a high-level panel to investigate the gold smuggling case, the government says that could affect the ongoing probe.
The ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) leaders have accused the main opposition party CPN (UML) of attempting to foil the ongoing investigation into the gold smuggling by demanding another probe panel.
The two parties have differing views on the discussions between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and former Prime Minister and CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli that ran for two consecutive days on Sunday and Monday.
The UML has claimed that the prime minister didn’t give any concrete response to Oli’s demand for a high-level probe panel. But officials at the prime minister’s secretariat said that Oli had agreed to end obstruction to Parliament during his meeting with the prime minister at Baluwatar on Monday morning. They added that Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha had thus prepared his response to present at the House of Representatives scheduled to begin at 1 pm on Monday.
“UML chair Oli didn’t discuss forming a high-level probe panel during today’s meeting with the prime minister,” said Ramesh Malla, the prime minister’s secretary. “After Oli agreed to open the House, the meeting between the two top leaders concluded positively.”
Following the UML chair’s nod to open the House, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha reached the parliament with preparations but the UML lawmakers reiterated their stance of probe panel and said they cannot allow the House to run.
“We were preparing for the House meeting after the morning’s agreement between the prime minister and the UML chair but the lawmakers of the main opposition refused to accept the deal,” said Hitraj Pande, chief whip of CPN (Maoist Centre). “We are now fed up with the activities of UML, whose chair makes a deal and others refuse to accept that.”
Pande added there is no need to form any probe panel because the government’s mechanism has been deeply investigating the gold smuggling case but the UML wants to derail it by forming another probe panel.
But UML Chief Whip Padam Giri claimed that the prime minister had given no concrete response to the party’s demand for a high-level probe panel and therefore the party had to continue with its stance to obstruct the House.
Giri said that there is a need for a separate panel because the party cannot believe in the government’s probe as it has not even questioned Maoist Centre’s leaders who have been accused by the media of being involved in smuggling gold by placing the precious metal inside an e-cigarette.
But Maoist Centre leaders claimed that the UML leaders have been giving strange reactions after the government caught a quintal of gold that was passed out of the immigration.
“They are now focussing on ways to foil the ongoing probe,” said Pande. “There are past experiences that unnecessary probe panels would only affect the government from finding the real culprits.”
According to UML leaders, an independent probe panel including the justices, former Inspector Generals of Police, Additional Inspector Generals and secretaries besides those having professional expertise on the issue should be formed as there is no possibility of an independent probe into the smuggling of gold now.
Maoist Centre secretary Chakrapani Khanal also said there is no point in forming a probe panel at a time when experts have been doing the job.
However, Deputy General Secretary of the ruling Maoist Centre Barshaman Pun has stood for forming a parliamentary committee or a high level independent panel to probe the issue.
Pun, airing his views at the party’s office bearers’ meeting on Sunday, argued that formation of such a panel has become necessary as people have started dragging various politicians into the matter and tarnishing their image.
He has floated the idea of forming a committee to inquire into the matter as some people have also accused him of being involved in the smuggling. Some of them have even posted pictures of Pun and his wife Onsari Gharti, former Speaker, having lunch with Dawa Tsering, one of the suspects arrested by police in connection with the case.