Nepal`s top parties seeks probe into Maoists` `bribe scam`

Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, on Sunday demanded a probe into Maoists` bribe scam.

Updated: Sep 05, 2010, 23:50 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepali Congress and CPN-UML,
the key partners in the ruling alliance, on Sunday demanded a
probe into an audio tape conversation that purportedly records
a top Maoist leader seeking Rs.50 crore from a Chinese
official to buy lawmakers in a bid to get their supremo
Prachanda elected in the prime ministerial poll.

In a telephonic conversation, the tape of which was
leaked to the media here yesterday, Unified CPN-Maoists`
Foreign Department chief Krishna Bahadur Mahara is purportedly
heard asking an unknown Chinese official for Rs 50 crore to
buy 50 MPs, apparently from Terai-based Madhesi parties which
have been boycotting the polls.

The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have demanded an
investigation into the matter to reveal the truth.

"The government must carry out an investigation and
testing of the voices and make the truth public," a statement
issued by the Nepali Congress said on Sunday.

Pointing to the audio tape, the Nepali Congress said
that a dangerous conspiracy is being hatched in the country`s
politics, adding "any one who can invest such a huge amount of
money in Nepalese politics cannot be an ordinary person."

The statement also linked the audio tape episode with
a claim made by CPN-Marxist Leninist chief C.P. Mainali, who
had alleged that the Maoists had offered Rs.5 crore to the
party to get its support during the Prime Ministerial polls.

The scandal unmasks the real picture of the Maoists,
who are launching a movement for "national self-esteem" and
castigating others as "puppets", the statement said.

CPN-UML, the third largest party that leads the
caretaker government, termed the episode as mysterious.

Pradip Gyawali, the CPN-UML spokesperson, described
the episode as mysterious and demanded an investigation.

"If the report is true it will turn Nepal into a
battleground, he said.

He said the government and parliament should be
serious about the issue and carry out an investigation.

"Disowning the tape would not be enough for the
Maoists," he underlined, adding "the party should bring out
the truth in public.

The Maoists, however, have claimed that it is an
attempt at character assassination. Mahara, in a statement,
dismissed the tape as "fabricated, misleading and fictitious."
The ex-rebels said they would conduct a probe themselves.

Extracts of the alleged conversation were carried by
`The Himalayan Times`, which said that Mahara agreed to meet
the Chinese official in Hong Kong after seeking Rs 50 crore.

The audio tape was also broadcast by local TV channels.
"In the conversation, Mahara asks the man at the other
end of the telephone speaking with a Chinese accent for
financial support of 50 crore Nepalese rupees to persuade 50
lawmakers to vote for Maoist chief Prachanda during the sixth
round of election for Prime Minister," another daily
`Republica` reported.

Nepalese lawmakers today failed in their sixth bid to
elect a new prime minister, with Maoist chief Prachanda and
his Nepali Congress rival R C Poudyal unable to secure a
majority vote, deepening the two-month political crisis in the
country.

More than two months after the 22-party coalition led
by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal collapsed, 55-year-old
Prachanda polled 240 votes, while 101 lawmakers voted against
him.

Similarly, the 601-member Parliament also rejected
Poudyal who secured 122 votes in favour and 242 opposing him.

Out of total 504 members present today, 163 lawmakers
stayed neutral. Lawmakers from third largest CPN-UML party,
Terai based Madhesi parties and most of the other smaller
groups remained neutral during the Parliament vote.

The date for next round of election has been fixed for
September 7.

PTI