KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Nepal Communist Party (Revolutionary) Vice-chair CP Gajurel thinks Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is “somehow involved” in the Security Press Scam since he was mum despite being aware of the former Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota’s Rs 700 million bribe deal.
Gokul Baskota was forced to resign “on moral grounds” on Thursday after an audio recording of him bargaining for a share of commission with a local agent of a Swiss company, Bijaya Prakash Mishra, over the procurement of security printing press was leaked in the social media.
In the audio conversation, which is believed to have leaked by Mishra, the duo settles for a 70-30 percent deal out of Rs 700 million commission gained from the planned procurement worth Rs 27 billion. Baskota is also heard asking to raise the cost estimate to Rs 28 billion to increase the commission margin.
Baskota is one of the closest confidantes of PM Oli and has long been favored by the prime minister, which has led many to believe that Oli was aware of Baskota’s bribe deal.
Even Mishra has revealed that he had taken the audio to the prime minister two months ago.
Oli praising Baskota publicly days before the audiotape scandal, and his inaction toward his most trusted character despite being aware of the bribe deal has raised questions if the prime minister himself was directly or indirectly involved in the deal.
“Why did not Oli take any initiative to take action against Baskota even if he knew about the audio two months ago? What motivated him to neglect it?” questioned Gajurel, while speaking at a face-to-face interaction program organized by the Reporters’ Club Nepal on Sunday.
“PM Oli’s inaction shows he is somehow involved in the security press scam”, he added.
A secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party on Saturday concluded the party will launch a separate investigation into the security press scam handing the probe duty to Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
But Gajurel does not believe the CIAA’s investigation into Baskota bribe controversy will be fair.
“I have doubts the CIAA will launch a fair investigation into the case. The CIAA is the shadow of the government. I think the government is intending to give a clean chit to Baskota.
“Baskota’s resignation is not enough. I have heard Baskota was planning to pocket Rs 1 billion commission from about seven planned projects,” he added.