MAR 24, 2012, Kathmandu – An another Political reform by Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai by sacking Minister for Labour and Transport Sarita Giri for working hand-in-glove with controversial manpower agencies.
Giri was the sole representative of fringe parties in the Cabinet from the Madhes and is the leader of Nepal Sadvawana Party (Anandidevi).
Immediately after Giri’s ouster, her party, which has only one lawmaker, withdrew support from the government.
Giri’s dismissal will, however, not affect the coalition, Bhattarai’s personal secretary Biswadeep Pandey said. “This will not affect the coalition. Even if it would have, the PM would have taken the action,” he said.
Giri had failed to furnish a “satisfactory” clarification over the transfer of Director General of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) Purna Chandra Bhattarai.
The PM has appointed Chairman of Rastriya Janamukti Party, Mathabir Singh Thapa, as the new minister for labour and transport. He administered the oath of office to Thapa in the presence of President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on Friday itself.
Addressing a press meet, Giri said the PM’s decision was conveyed to her in the morning by his personal secretary Ganga Shrestha.
Giri also said that the PM had sought her resignation in a meeting on Wednesday. “I urge you to resign as I am under tremendous pressure,” Giri quoted the PM as saying. She, however, said the PM did not say where the pressure came from. Giri also said that she had made it clear to the PM that she would not resign for transferring a bureaucrat. She added that the PM may have acted under pressure from the bureaucracy. She also claimed that the prime minister was “trying to create parallel power centres” by bringing bureaucrats at par with ministers in the functioning of ministries.
Giri also took a dig at the Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Transport, Som Lal Subedi, and accused him of “non-cooperation”. Stating that reform programmes at the ministry were in their final stages, Giri said the programmes’ implementation was being delayed due to lack of cooperation from Subedi.
“I had no problems working with earlier secretaries. But ever since Som Lal Subedi joined the ministry, it has been difficult to work,” Giri said.
She further said she has handed over “evidence” to the PM proving DG Bhattarai’s irregularities. Challenging anyone to prove her involvement in corruption, Giri claimed that “some powerful people may have been upset as I refused to be part of policy level corruption”. Giri also claimed that she may have been removed as her party is not a major coalition partner.
Giri had transferred DG Bhattarai on March 12. He was earlier transferred to the department in November as part of the prime minister’s efforts to check corruption and better-manage the department. PM Bhattarai had directed officials to stop issuing licenses to new manpower agencies.
Giri was reportedly disappointed with DG Bhattarai, mainly for not registering five new recruiting agencies. Sources at the DoFE say the agencies were not given the licences as they did not meet the set criteria. PM Bhattarai was under pressure to act against “indisciplined” ministers, given his pledge for good governance. He has sought clarification from some of his Cabinet colleagues, including Giri.
While Minister for Irrigation Mahendra Yadav reportedly hurdled abuses at Secretary Brinda Hada over transfer of employees within the ministry and departments concerned, an “inebriated” Minister of State for Health Saroj Yadav went on the rampage at Bir Hospital. Also on Friday, PM Bhattarai swapped two state ministers’ responsibilities.
Minister of State for Land Reforms Jwala Kumari Sah has been given the responsibility of the Tourism Ministry, while Minister of State for Tourism Dilip Maharjan has been assigned to handle the Land Reforms Ministry.