Upendra Yadav’s agonies

Ishwor Aryal


Kathmandu, 26 November (2019) – Upendra Yadav, Chairman of Samajwadi Party and then Minister of Health and Population, went to participate in Global Digital Health Partnership in New Delhi last Sunday.

A source told Lokantar that PM KP Sharma Oli phoned Yadav while he was about to fly to Delhi. Yadav received the call inside the plane. PM told him, “I may reshuffle the Cabinet before you return.”

Yadav had conversed with the PM that same morning for half an hour.

That conversation had centred on Cabinet reshuffle. PM Oli agreed to postpone the reshuffle before Yadav’s return to Kathmandu.

But the PM’s phone in the aeroplane put Yadav in dilemma.

“It’s okay. We shall discuss about Samajwadi Party’s quota of ministers in the next meeting,” Yadav said. He then flew to Delhi.

Office of the President made public the final list of ministers Wednesday night. Yadav was reassigned to Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs from Ministry of Health. Minister of State Dr. Surendra Yadav, also of Samajwadi Party, was relieved of his duties.

Minister of Urban Development Ishtiyak Rai also belonging to Samajwadi Party was in the safe zone. Ram Bir Manandhar of NCP was inducted as Minister of State in that ministry. New ministers were sworn to their posts the next day.

Yadav tried to speak with PM Oli before the new ministers took oath of office. “He is busy now, he has said that he will contact you shortly,” one of PM’s associates told Yadav.

Yadav waited for the PM’s call but it never arrived.

Failing to chat with the PM, Yadav made a call to co-chairman of the party Baburam Bhattarai.

Two chairmen agreed to step down from the government immediately after Yadav’s return to Nepal. Bhattarai had been lobbying to quit the government since long and he was happy with Yadav’s decision.

Yadav returned to Nepal on Friday but did not go to the Ministry of Law. He called the meeting of officeholders Saturday.

Contrary to expectations of stepping down from the government, the meeting announced a delegation team to hold talks with the government. Yadav expressed dissatisfaction with Cabinet reshuffle during his absence but he did not agree with many office-bearers to quit the government.

When most of the office bearers said that Samajwadi Party has to quit the government with immediate effect Yadav flared up, “Rastriya Janata Party (RaJaPa) will join the government immediately after we part ways. What will we do then?” Uneasy silence descended in the meeting afterwards.

Yadav’s fears

Yadav had asked Co-Chairman Baburam Bhattarai and some other leaders in Samajwadi Party to quit the government because the PM had reshuffled the Cabinet without consulting him first. But he took a U-turn all of a sudden. When asked about this volte-face one Samajwadi Party leader said, “He is utterly dissatisfied with the government but he said that more deliberation is required before quitting the government.”

Source says that Yadav sees the possibility of RaJaPa joining the government once Samajwadi Party leaves the government.

He also fears that NCP can build a new government in coalition with RaJaPa in Province-2 bypassing Samajwadi Party. The federal government can also raise the spectre of Gaur massacre after Samajwadi Party quits the government. Yadav is implicated in that massacre.

Some days ago Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel had told the reporters at Biratnagar Airport that investigation on Gaur massacre can be reopened.

On March 21, 2007 the then Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum and the then CPN (Maoist) had tried to organize separate programmes on a single stage.

This caused dispute between the parties and Forum activists attacked Maoists. Twenty-seven Maoists were killed on the spot while one died during treatment. Many people were injured.

Yadav was the head of Forum at that time. He is under constant fear of being convicted of the massacre.

Yadav’s silence

Upendra Yadav did not want to comment to Lokantar about quitting the government.

“I’ll speak about it after few days. The decision of party’s office-bearers is the formal decision for now,” he said.

Five days after the Cabinet reshuffle Yadav went to the new ministry.

Assuming his duties in the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Yadav said that the PM does not need to consult with anyone to reassign ministries.

Talking with reporters at the time of taking up the post he said, “There is no need of consultation. It’s a simple matter and PM has that power. The party has not decided to walk out of the government over this trifle.”