- UML guilty on two accounts: appointment of Mahesh Basnet and arrest of CK Raut
Sep 14, 2014-
Within the last few days, the CPN-UML has taken two decisions that blatantly violate the basic principles of democracy and good governance. The first was the decision by party Chairman KP Oli to recall two of the party’s ministers and replace them with two of his loyalists. Much attention has been focussed on one of these new ministers: Mahesh Basnet. Though he seems to be in his forties, Basnet is a so-called ‘youth leader’ of the party. As most Nepalis know, the word ‘youth leader’ within the UML is a euphemism for an individual who helps to expand the party’s power by cultivating goons, engaging in violence against other groups and raising money through illegal means, including extortion. Basnet himself has long been known to be a major protector of gangsters. When the notorious Biratnagar gangster Parshuram Basnet was arrested, for example, Mahesh Basnet did all he could to secure the former’s release. In recent days, photos of Mahesh Basnet personally beating up police personnel have emerged on social media.
Basnet himself would have been in jail a long time ago had it not been for the personal protection of KP Oli. It seems that his primary function is to act as an intermediary between Oli and various gangster groups. Oli has tried to promote Mahesh Basnet in many ways in the recent past. In the last election, for example, Oli secured a ticket for Basnet to compete from Bhaktapur. Given his extremely poor public reputation, it was inevitable that he would lose. Now, however, he has been appointed minister of industry, even though there is nothing in his background that would suggest that he is suitable for such a role.
Meanwhile, the police, which is under a UML minister, has arrested Madhesi activist and scholar CK Raut in the dead of night without a warrant, leading to an outcry. There are fears that the police has acted in a way that violates procedure. There are legitimate demands that due process should be followed in this case, and Raut should be presented before a court as soon as possible. The police need to make clear why they have arrested Raut. We hope that the government will soon take steps to mitigate the anger that Raut’s arrest has aroused in the Madhes.
These two events should be a cause for the UML to introspect. There are many leaders and cadres within the party that bemoan the party’s criminalisation and the high-handedness of some of its leaders. They should speak out against such tendencies and push for reform of the party. If such incidents continue, it is almost certain that the UML’s will become increasingly unpopular.
Published: 15-09-2014 09:04