National

PM uses chopper to ride roughshod over poll code

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, NAGENDRA ADHIKARI, KATHMANDU/KAVRE

Mar 4, 2017-

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, whose penchant for flying on helicopters had come under scrutiny during the Constituent Assembly elections in 2013, hitched a chopper ride to Kavre to attend a party function on Friday, two days after the Election Commission brought poll code of conduct barring such activities.

Though PM Dahal used an Army chopper to fly to Kavre only after EC’s approval, an official at the poll body said the office was not aware of the purpose of the visit—whether it was a party programme or a government business. Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav told the Post that PM Dahal “had taken approval” from the EC to use the helicopter.

According to the poll code brought into force in view of local level elections set for May 14, prime minister and ministers are not allowed to use helicopters. Nor can they inaugurate public functions.

Election Commissioner Sudhir Shah said PM Dahal was given permission to use helicopter as the poll code “does not bar head of state and head of government from using helicopters for government-related businesses”.

Shah would not say whether PM Dahal had particularly mentioned the reason when he sought permission to fly to Kavre, leaving room for speculations that the EC could have taken a lackadaisical approach when it came to enforcing poll code of conduct. “We had given approval to use the helicopter for government business. We do not know for what purpose it was used,” Shah told the Post. 

PM Dahal had flown to Kamidada of Chyansikharka to attend “martyrs’ week” that his party, had organised.  Former chief election commissioner Nil Kantha Upreti said “poll code of conduct bars prime minister and ministers from using helicopters unless and until there is some emergency situation”.

An EC official said prime minister and ministers cannot use helicopters for party programmes and election campaigns when poll code of conduct is in place.

In the run-up to CA elections in 2013, Dahal was one of the politicians who had enjoyed the most number of chopper rides after Ek Nath Dhakal, chairman of Nepal Pariwar Dal.

Published: 04-03-2017 08:03

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