Government contradicts its decision on Chand outfit and its activities

  • On Tuesday, the Oli administration used the term ‘ban’. Two days later, the ministry stated it is ‘taking action’ against the group
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 15, 2019-

The government has contradicted its own decision in a span of two days on imposing a ban on the activities of the Communist Party of Nepal, led by Netra Bikram Chand.

On Tuesday, following a Cabinet meeting, some ministers leaked the decision to the media—as they spoke on condition of anonymity—that the government had imposed a ban on the activities of the Chand-led outfit, as they were more criminal than political. Almost all the media outlets, including the Post, carried reports generously using the term “ban”.

But “ban” was nowhere in a statement that the Ministry of Information and Communications released on Thursday to make the Cabinet decision public. It instead calls for “taking action” against the outfit in accordance with the law.

Observers and experts on legal and constitutional issues said the government “softened” its decision and took out “ban” following a huge public backlash over the couple of days, as well as criticism from a section of leaders within the ruling party.

Bipin Adhikari, an expert on constitutional affairs, said the government can impose a ban on an outfit which is not registered with the Election Commission as a political party.

“But the way the Cabinet decision was changed, it looks like the government has softened its position after a public backlash,” Adhikari told the Post. “It appears that the government was, first, clueless about what decision it should take, and second, there was a lack of preparations on the part of the government while taking the decision.”

A senior leader of the ruling party said the change was bound to happen as there was a huge backlash. “There is a lot of difference between ‘imposing a ban’, or ‘taking action’ or ‘taking control’,” the leader told the Post on condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.

The ministry’s statement released on Thursday reads: “Those people, organisations or groups who lend direct and indirect support to a group identified as the Communist Party of Nepal—also known as the Biplav group—will be branded as criminal and violent organisations and action will be taken as per the law.” Biplav is the nom de guerre of Chand.

But others said the change in the wording in the Cabinet decision—from Tuesday to Thursday—was a result of the Oli administration’s intent to control information.

“There is a lack of transparency. We do not know what decision the Cabinet is taking and what is being told to the media and people,” said Taranath Dahal, chairman of Freedom Forum, which works for freedom of expression. “In the last nine months, we have been receiving ‘selective’ information from the government. There is a tendency in this administration to cover up or distort information.”

Adding to the confusion, although the ministry’s statement does not use the word “ban”, Minister for Information and Communications Gokul Baskota, during a weekly regular press briefing on Thursday, said that “a ban was imposed on the Chand outfit after it carried out criminal activities”.

“The government has given 35 days to the outfit to surrender its weapons,” Baskota told journalists. “The government, however, is ready to hold dialogue with the outfit.”

The Cabinet on Tuesday had taken the decision as per the proposal forwarded by the Home Ministry.

When asked, Home Ministry Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi said he could not speak about the Cabinet decision.

“Ask the government why the decision was changed. I do not know why the decision was changed,” Subedi said, before hanging up the phone.

Published: 15-03-2019 11:49

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