Nepal: Prachanda to vacate residence after criticism

Prachanda has decided to vacate his multi-crore mansion and return expensive vehicles after strong criticism over his luxurious lifestyle.

Kathmandu: Maoist chief Prachanda has decided to vacate his multi-crore mansion and return expensive vehicles he was using after strong criticism from within and outside the party over his luxurious lifestyle.

Addressing the closing session of the five-day long plenum of UCPN-Maoist party yesterday, Prachanda said he would vacate the Lazimpat residence after making a new arrangement.

He also said that he would only use vehicles provided by the government.

His high-profile residence had made headlines in the media. Soon after Prachanda moved into the mansion from his previous residence, a section of party cadres had claimed that he had purchased the multi-crore property.

While aides claimed that Prachanda had been staying in the house on rent, party insiders say the mansion was actually bought in the name of a close associate of Prachanda.

"I have been staying on rent. But it was rumoured that I have bought the house," Prachanda told the raucous party plenum that saw heated exchanges, according to party sources.

"Being a former prime minister, the government should provide me a house and a vehicle," he said.

A recently introduced ordinance has a provision of state facilities to former prime ministers.

The five-day closed door meeting of the party was a chaotic affair that saw hooting, heated verbal exchanges and even throwing of chairs.

On Friday, Prachanda escaped unhurt when a central member close to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai threw a chair on him, after Bhattarai was barred from speaking and manhandled by some cadres close to the party chief.

In a bid to end the friction, Prachanda later proposed to swap his and Bhattarai`s personal aides.

The leadership also had to face the music on issues of corruption and amassing of property by leaders.

Party`s cadres and former combatants also complained of irregularities in distributing financial incentives to the former fighters confined in cantonments.

The plenum also decided to form a general convention organising committee by dissolving the central committee.

Prachanda, Bhattarai, party Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha and Secretary Post Bahadur Bogati will be included as office bearers in the committee.

The plenum also dissolved the party standing and politburo committees, while the state and district committees have also been transformed into ad hoc bodies with the responsibility to convene general convention.

The plenum announced that the general convention would be held towards mid-January.

The party, which remained underground for more than a decade has not organised its general convention for the past two decades.

The plenum also endorsed Prachanda`s proposal to form financial and account committees at the central level.

The details of movable and immovable properties held by the party chief and vice-chairman Bhattarai will be submitted to the financial committee.

Party cadres and former combatants have complained about financial irregularities in the party.

Six of the seven former division commanders of the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) have resigned en-masse from their party posts over the issue of financial irregularities.

They have been accusing party chief Prachanda of making a few divisional commanders scapegoats for huge financial irregularities carried out by PLA commanders close to hims, according to media reports.