Ruckus in a riven House
The main opposition CPN-UML upped its ante against the government on Tuesday, warning that it will not let the House function unless the government forms a high-level parliamentary committee to investigate the incident of a 100-kg gold consignment passing undetected through the high-security Tribhuvan International Airport on July 20. The illegal consignment, concealed in brake shoes of motorcycles and scooters, was intercepted and seized outside the airport at Sinamangal.
Yogesh Bhattarai, a lawmaker from the CPN-UML, pointed out that government authorities like the customs, TIA management, immigration and law enforcement were caught napping on that fateful day.
He said, “This incident calls for questioning the Home Minister and the Finance Minister. Who will grill them if not a high-level committee?”
Bhattarai reasoned that the facts will not come to light unless a high-level parliamentary panel investigates the security breach, implying that subordinate agencies will find it hard to bring the ministers under the purview of a probe.
The day saw another opposition party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, also calling for a high-level probe into the case.
Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chair and lawmaker Rajendra Lingden claimed that the government itself did not want the House to function, even as it continued to blame the opposition for stalling the proceedings. “Police and CIAA investigations have also been incomplete. The government should relent to the demand for a high-level committee.”
Lingden suspected that fear of its collapse may have prevented the government from constituting a high-level probe panel. He accused the three major parties of holding the country hostage through shady deals.
“These parties are striving to form an unconstitutional power center through secretive talks.”
Lingden urged Speaker Devraj Ghimire to clarify on the unparliamentary practice of the three parties making decisions and imposing them on other parties as this practice was going on under his watch.
Lawmaker and Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chair Rabi Lamichhane also stood in favor of forming a high-level parliamentary probe panel for a credible investigation into the 100-kg gold case.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha tried to allay, in particular, the main opposition’s concerns while responding to questions raised in the House regarding the 100-kg illegal gold case. Shrestha asked the opposition to give the investigating agency, CIB, 35 days, stressing the need to have faith in the state’s agencies. He pointed out that transnational criminals were turning the country into a transit for gold smuggling, thereby deeply impacting the national security and the economy.
However, the CPN-UML was far from impressed. It stated that the Home Minister had failed to answer most of its questions. As the obstruction continued, Speaker Ghimire adjourned the meeting till 1 pm, Wednesday.
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