A government team led by former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital has recently found out that more than 57,000 square feet (113 ropanis) of the government land has been transferred to different individuals over a past few decades. One of the buyers of those land pieces has been identified as Navin Paudel, a son of Bishnu Paudel, the powerful general secretary of the Nepal Communist Party and a close aide of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. The ruling party leadership is under pressure to take action against Paudel, but the leaders have expressed public statements in his defence. In this context, Onlinekhabar has talked to the former minister about the controversy.
A recent controversy about your family’s land in Baluwatar shook your 40 year old political career to its foundation.
I have already made public my statement about the issue. The government has launched an investigation into the land that has been reportedly misappropriated. It has also suspended the sale of the 113 ropani land for now. I believe this government has aimed to protect all the government land across the country and I have extended my full support to the campaign.
About my political life, it has been 41 years since I became a fulltime member of the party. My life is an open book to the general public as well as my cadres. I am also an advocate of the campaign to save the government land.
Currently, most of the people do not care about 112.5 ropani land of Baluwatar, and they are running after our eight aana. But I don’t find it unnatural. I am ready to support the campaign.
Didn’t you have any idea about the history of this land when you purchased it?
I have already clarified that the land was purchased as per existing laws. I could have an option to say that I was not responsible about the transaction made by my son who already passed the age of majority. But, I am a responsible citizen and am clear that there was not any dispute on the lad when we bought it 15 years ago. No concerned office raised question about it.
The concerned office decided that the land could be sold and purchased, and passed the registration to my son Navin’s name. I was not in any position of state advantage. Neither was I close to power politics.
We sold eight kaththa land, registered with my wife’s name, located in then Tilakpur VDC-3 of Nawalparasi district, currently ward 10 of Bardaghat Municipality, to manage money for the Baluwatar land.
Did you have any sense that the deal would turn controversial one day?
I could not think of anything like that. I have not kept any detail about the land secret. I have been mentioning this land in my property details every year since I was elected a lawmaker from Rupandehi district in 2008. If this land was earned illicitly, I could hide it from my property details.
Now, the government led by our party found some irregularities in the land of Baluwatar. This government has already halted further transactions over the disputed land. My family’s land is also halted from any further transaction. Now, I wish the concerned state authority would conclude the investigation and implement the findings soon.
But, don’t you think this scandal hampered your political height?
I respect everyone who has expressed their concerns over the moral value of a politician. But, I want to clarify that Bishnu Paudel cannot think of damaging the state property. If the investigation finds out that the eight aana land belongs to the state, I will not object to it. The land was bought without any bad intention.
I will fully support the conclusions made by the state mechanism. Accusations made against me should be proved against available facts and evidence. Accusations made on the basis of guesses and prejudices cannot be justified. They cannot cover the truth.
People should come up with evidence about who transferred the government land to the individuals.
Many people have demanded your resignation from the party position. They fear that you might influence the investigation. What do you say about it?
I am not in the government now. Concerned government agencies have been mobilised for the investigation and they have already started their work. I have been supporting efforts being made to scrap illegal land registrations and transfer them to the government, take action against those involved in such activities and strengthen the public land management system.
I heartily welcome and support such government efforts and decisions. Those found responsible in the investigation should be booked.