Swatantra Party begins probe against its leader ThapaDhaka Kumar Shrestha, who was sacked for corruption, accused Mohan Jung Thapa of demanding Rs30 million to make him health minister.
The Rastriya Swatantra Party has started investigating bribery charges against its central committee member Mohan Jung Thapa levelled by Dhaka Kumar Shrestha, a lawmaker who was sacked following a corruption case.
The Swatantra Party had suspended Shrestha in April after a leaked audio recording revealed a voice, allegedly Shrestha’s, asking for a bribe. Two weeks later, he lost his position as a member of the House of Representatives. Bindabasini Kansakar replaced Shrestha as a lawmaker.
RSP General Secretary Mukul Dhakal, issuing a statement, said, “The matter was discussed in the central work execution committee meeting on Tuesday in the presence of the chief of the party’s disciplinary committee. We have begun the investigation and interrogation against central member Thapa.”
However, Shrestha had challenged the decision in the Supreme Court before Kansakar assumed her office. But the court cleared the way for Kansakar.
In the leaked audio, the voice asks for Rs20 million from another person, presumably the controversial medical entrepreneur Durga Prasai, to pay to the core group members of the party so that Shrestha can become health minister and “bring about radical reforms in the health sector”.
Prasai is the owner of the Birtamode-based B & C Medical College and Teaching Hospital.
Asked multiple times about the members of the core group, Shrestha had been denying to name them.
“Shrestha sometimes said that he would disclose the names of core team members and sometimes mentioned there is no core team. He has been giving contradictory remarks repeatedly,” reads the statement.
The issue came to the spotlight once again as Dhaka Kumar Shrestha, in a television interview a few days ago, said, “Mohan Jung Thapa [of the same party] and his team asked for Rs30 million, to make me the minister.”
Allegedly, Shrestha in the audio states that the Swatantra Party leaders had initially demanded around Rs25 million so that he could be considered a candidate for the post of health minister. It appears that Shrestha and Prasai had engaged in a phone conversation to discuss the same on January 15 and the recording was leaked later.
At the time, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal government, of which the RSP was a part, was in the process of expanding the Cabinet.
Bharat Mani Devkota, chair of the party’s disciplinary committee, said they had asked Thapa for clarification on Wednesday. “We have given a week’s deadline. He is out of the country at present.”
Stating that their investigation is ongoing, Devkota said, “We don’t have any concern about Dhaka Kumar Shrestha, as he is no longer our party member.”
The issue was gradually being erased from public memory after Shrestha was stripped of his lawmaker status. Now, the new party has got another issue to deal with.
RSP press coordinator Ganesh Karki said Shrestha’s answers to the central committee months ago were inconsistent and contradictory. He added that the party always responds promptly when it comes to corruption cases. “If evidence finds Thapa guilty, he will be punished.”
The RSP’s core agenda is speaking against corruption, as it acted in April in Shrestha’s case, Karki said.