Controversial ministers relieved of their duties; House resumes normal business

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai informed the Legislature-Parliament on Wednesday afternoon that Defence Minister Sarat Singh Bhandari has been relieved from his responsibilities in the Cabinet after the latter’s party Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic’s decision to withdraw him.

Speaking before the House, Dr. Bhattarai said that Defence Minister Bhandari and Land Reforms and Management Minister Prabhu Sah have been removed on the recommendations of their respective parties as per the Article 38 (8) of Interim Consitution. According to him, the president has been informed about the move.

The House resumed today after obstruction for six days since Thursday. To resume the House, the opposition parties had been demanding removal of MJF-D’s Bhandari for his secessionist remarks and UCPN-Maoist’s Sah for this alleged involvement in a murder case from the Cabinet and Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai’s clarification.

Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai said that he took the decision for the sake of peace and consitution, asking the House not to take this (removal of ministers) for victory or defeat of any side.

Bowing to the pressure from all quarters, the MJF-D’s political committee this afternoon decided to remove the controversial minister from the Cabinet. He, however, refused to resign, suggesting that only the party’s Central Committee can decision on his fate.

Bhandari was inducted in the Dr. Baburam Bhattarai-led government when the Cabinet was extended for the third time on September 15.

His statement that 22 Tarai districts may secede from the country if they decide to do so drew flak from the opposition parties and a section of the UCPN-Maoist also.

MJF-D Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar will look after the defence ministry from today.

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