Congress MPs criticise government for Sharma’s arrest, Lama’s appointmentNepali Congress lawmakers convened in the Capital for their parliamentary party meeting on Sunday.
Nepali Congress lawmakers on Sunday criticised the arrest of party MP Sunil Sharma at their parliamentary party meeting.
Party whip Sushila Thing said the meeting discussed the bills under consideration of Parliament, effective implementation of the budget, natural calamities, lumpy skin disease, the arrest of Sharma on the charge of acquiring fake educational certificate and the appointment of Lharkyal Lama as the vice-chair of Lumbini Development Trust.
Thing said some lawmakers touched upon Lama’s appointment but the meeting didn’t see a detailed discussion on the subject. “Sharma said he was handed the arrest warrant only after three hours of arrest and he was also assaulted,” Thing told the Post. “If that was the case, the arrest is illegal.”
Speaking at the meeting, the Congress Joint General Secretary Jivan Pariyar said Sharma’s arrest was against the law. He argued that even the Speaker wasn’t properly informed about Sharma’s arrest. “The government has abused its authority. Today, Sharma became the victim; tomorrow, it will be someone else.”
Similarly, lawmaker Rajendra Bajagain demanded a proactive role from Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat to enable the country to recover from what has been a prolonged financial crisis. He also said that Nepali Congress currently lacks unity. “Our party lacks unity—all are pulling each other down. Sunil Sharma is currently under duress. We should not be aggressive towards him.”
Police had on Thursday arrested Congress lawmaker Sharma on the charge of acquiring a fake academic certificate. A team from the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police arrested the lawmaker from Golfutar in Kathmandu.
He was arrested for an investigation after a certificate said to have been issued from an institution in India was revealed to be fake. Sharma, who is the owner of a medical college, had pursued MBBS in China based on the same certificate. He now owns a hospital.
However, the Kathmandu District Court on Friday ordered the CIB to release Sharma and continue with the investigation for his alleged possession of a dubious academic certificate of the intermediate level. Following the court order, police released him on Friday evening.
Sharma was elected to the House of Representatives from Morang-3 in last year’s major elections. He is considered close to the Shekhar Koirala camp in the Congress.
Bajagain also mentioned at the meeting that even the opposition leaders have been supporting Sharma. “If someone is guilty, the legal process must bring them to book. But he was arrested forcefully, permission from the Speaker was not even taken prior to the arrest.”
Sharma, both in Parliament and in public, had been demanding the resignations of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat, claiming that they both should be held responsible for the recent smuggling of an estimated 100 kg of gold from Hong Kong. The gold was seized last month immediately after it had passed the airport customs.
Lawmaker Sharma had accused chief whip Ramesh Lekhak of not allocating him the time to speak in Parliament. “If I am not allowed to speak, I will rebel,” he reportedly said. Sharma also accused the police of arresting him without an arrest warrant. “Only after I fought, they gave me the warrant.”
He also questioned the relevance of Congress being in the government. “I have not killed people, or smuggled gold. Yet I was arrested and manhandled,” he said. “We have not felt that we are in the government. This government must be removed.”
Party spokesperson and Minister of Finance Prakash Sharan Mahat complained that he has been unnecessarily questioned.
He said he was accused of being involved in the gold scam without any substantiation. “If you give proof of my wrongdoing or abuse of authority, I will not remain in my position with immediate effect.”
The Nepali Congress lawmakers also criticised the government for appointing Lharkyal Lama, who has had a controversial image, to the post of vice chair of the Lumbini Development Fund. A Cabinet meeting on August 1 had appointed Lama to the post. The Congress lawmakers have warned that the party should also bear the burden of the wrongdoings of the government.
“If the government makes mistakes, such acts impact us as well. Thus, the party and the ministers from the party should be attentive towards the activities of the government,” said party leader Shekhar Koirala.
Former lawmaker Lama has previously been charged with several crimes, including foreign employment fraud, possession of illegal firearms, accumulating property disproportionate to his known sources of income, and possession of dual citizenship and passport.
Party lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada also questioned the government’s recent activities. “What answer will the Congress give about the recent appointment of Lharkyal Lama as the vice chair of the Lumbini Development Fund?” he asked.