Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Don’t know names of many ministers: PM


Two days after strongly defending his government’s actions on forming a bloated Cabinet and seeking pardon for a murder convict, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Monday tried to explain the circumstances without appearing overtly defensive.

Appearing live on Kantipur Television’s weekly Fireside programme, Bhattarai told Bhusan Dahal, the show’s host, that as a leader of a coalition government, he does not have the luxury to appoint or remove ministers and that he acted on the recommendation of the coalition partners.

“I don’t know many ministers in my own Cabinet, I don’t even know their names,” the PM said, perhaps trying to show how little control he had over the decision to expand the Cabinet whose strength reached 49 on Sunday, the largest so far.

Bhattarai, who went to Baluwatar promising a break from the past and a decent and austere government—raising popular expectations by choosing to ride a Nepal-assembled Mustang Jeep instead of luxurious SUVs—has now suddenly become a topic of much criticism and ridicule.

He said he was aware of public aspirations, but that he was compromising on his ideals in the larger interest of the peace process. “Against my own convictions and popular expectations, I have taken a risk for peace and constitution,” Bhattarai said.

Describing his actions as political compulsion, he urged the public to judge him only on his accomplishments on peace and constitution.

On the government’s decision to grant pardon to lawmaker Bal Krishna Dhungel, a murder convict, he said the case should have never reached the Supreme Court. Insisting that the case was part of the conflict, Bhattarai said that the only way forward was to pardon Dhungel. “He has already spent more than eight years in jail and not many people are aware of this fact,” Bhattarai said.

“Let’s not dig into the past,” he said, insisting that his party was looking forward to reconciliation on all conflict-era cases. Arguing that the Maoists were not in favour of revenge politics, he said that if his party wanted it could bring charges against many leaders of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML.

Posted on: 2011-11-15 08:33

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