Binod Chaudhary, the only Nepali entrepreneur on the Forbes billionaire list, has been elected as a central committee member of the Nepali Congress (NC) under the Madhesi cluster in the 14th General Convention of the party which concluded on December 12.
The nomination of arguably the richest man of Nepal had raised some eyebrows among the watchers and observers of Nepali politics. His win has now courted moral and legal questions as well.
Legal or illegal?
Nepali Congress leaders and cadres are now questioning the legal validity of his candidacy. As per the statute of the NC, one must be an active member of the party for a decade to fight for a central committee member. But Chaudhary fought for the post though he has been an active member for only four years.
Chaudhary formally entered the Nepali Congress in October, 2017 after quitting the CPN (UML).
A businessman who created an empire and unchallenged reputation in the business sector has landed in one after another controversies in politics.
The party statute has mentioned that the central working committee can provide active membership to individuals joining the Nepali Congress by quitting other political parties. Such persons’ candidacies in the party’s election and nomination to positions in the party will be as per the decision of the party’s central committee, says the party statute.
Perhaps by stepping on this clause or to make the party statute inapplicable in case of Chaudhary, Nepali Congress Central Working Committee made another decision, which appears to facilitate the persons joining Nepali Congress from another party to contest for Central Member position.
People in social media have commented that the quota system, reserved for the marginalized voices, has been misused for Chaudhary.
According to the decision of the Central Working Committee of NC, which was verified by NC’s secretary Krishna Poudel, in case of calculating the time period of active membership of people who have joined Nepali Congress from other parties the required time period will consider the time period the person has served in other parties as well. They will be eligible to be a candidate for other positions which require the same time period of active membership.
The CWC decisions seemingly contradict the provision in the party statute. But the central election committee has apparently ignored the issue stating that nobody raised the complaints during the nomination period. The election has already been completed and so it cannot do anything, goes the reasoning by the central election committee.
Some media reports have claimed that Chaudhary is not eligible to become the candidate for central members.
The issue is murkier. And, no one has shown willingness to clarify it. Questions are raised on social media. Answers are unknown.
One after other controversies
Renowned businessman Binod Chaudhary, who was also a former member of parliament representing CPN (UML), had shifted allegiance to Nepali Congress on the eve of the last parliamentary elections held in 2017.
A powerful person with endless wealth, Chaudhary, has been elected as the central member from the Madhesi cluster in Nepali Congress. People in social media have commented that the quota system, reserved for the marginalized voices, has been misused for Chaudhary.
Chaudhary was never out of controversy in Nepal’s politics. In the 1990s, he was criticized by independent politicians and civil society for interfering with the budget formulation process when the late Bharat Mohan Adhikari was Finance Minister.
Nepal’s richest man was also in the ‘Pandora Papers’ leaks, a sequel to the ‘Panama Papers’ that had already exposed thousands around the world.
More recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) performed an investigation which revealed that well known political figures and business tycoons are using tax havens for money laundering. Binod Chaudhary, Nepal’s richest man, was also in the ‘Pandora Papers’ leaks, a sequel to the ‘Panama Papers’ that had already exposed thousands around the world.
The Pandora Papers has revealed that Chaudhary had set up companies in BVI in the names of his wife and three sons, Nirvana, Varun, and Rahul.
Chaudhary family has registered companies Innovation Incorporated, CG Hotels and Resorts Limited, Sensei Capital Partners Inc. in BVI, and CG Hospitality Holdings Global Pte Ltd in Singapore.