Kathmandu: At a time Rastriya Swatantra Party is being criticized by opposition parties for, what they call, being intolerant of criticism, its chair Rabi Lamichhane has claimed that his party is determined to protect and uphold freedom of the press.
Speaking at an election campaign in Tanahun on Monday, Lamichhane said that slanderous content is not tolerable to RSP.
He further said that his party firmly believes in freedom of expression and the culture of open discussion. He also criticized the recent act of arsoning newspapers in Chitwan.
Here is his statement on the matter:
I saw that some people have directed satire toward us regarding posts by our supporters on social media. I have not been able to pay attention to the content posted on social media over the past few days due to my engagement on election campaigns. I saw a few comments while en route to Tanahun.
We are deliberately linked [by opposition] with all comments made by the public . I want to inform you that we do not have cadres. We are a mass-based party. Definitely, we have a few members.
But, we have not directed our supporters or well wishers to engage in hateful comments. These things are not connected with Rastriya Swatantra Party. I appeal to all if you are a supporter or well wisher–whether from Nepal or abroad–of Rastriya Swatantra Party, please do not engage in disseminating hateful (galigalauj) content. You do it at your own, but opposition parties put blame on RSP for such acts. I apologize to those who are hurt from such hateful comments. Again, I want to make it clear that our party has not directed anyone to do Galigalauj.
I request all who are affiliated with RSP or who love RSP or who want RSP to progress, please do not engage in galigalauj because I or Dr Swarnim Wagle or any of our candidates are targeted with hateful content. This [galigalauj] is not our way of doing politics. We did not emerge from hate speech. We do not want to nurture this culture in politics. Again, I request you all, please stop such acts.
I also heard that people were involved in arson of newspapers. I do not know who did this. We do not believe in this kind of act. We firmly believe that freedom of expression should be safeguarded in democracy. We express our dissatisfaction openly. We do not carry out any activities by keeping ourselves in hiding. That is why, whoever is involved in such acts, I humbly request, please stop. Arsoning newspapers is an act of arsoning thoughts. Please do not set newspapers ablaze. Express your dissatisfaction in a peaceful manner.
I do not believe that our supporters and well wishers were involved in such acts. Neither is there any directive from the party to do such an act. Nor do we believe in such political culture. Whoever were involved in such acts, I once again apologize for that.
At the time of elections, there are many designs and propaganda against us. If we are tainted, it will be injustice to the entire generation. We are careful about this fact. We should maintain our integrity and political culture by avoiding such acts.