Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has claimed that Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari, who died in the Air Dynasty chopper crash in Taplejung on Wednesday, was not involved in corruption during the procurement of wide-body airplanes by the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).
Speaking during the ruling CPN's parliamentary party meeting convened to pass a condolence motion on Friday, PM Oli claimed that a few elements have tried to smear Adhikari by linking him in an issue he was not connected with. "I don't want to see too many things at this moment. But some elements tried to defame him by baselessly linking him to wide-body issue he was not related to," PM Oli said.
"He did not bring the wide-body planes due to any greed, and he didn't do anything in the procurement process. The issue is of the time before he became minister. But Nepal has become such a country where there are elements with attitude and inclination to try to hide the truth by spreading rumors or by preventing the truth from coming to the fore," he elaborated.
"I feel sad that a hard-working and active person like him was unfairly accused and smeared," he stated counting Adhikari's accomplishments including operating night flights at six airports, and initiating works to improve the airports in Dhangadi, Biratnagar and Chandragadi.
Minister Adhikari, his PSO Ghimire, Yeti Airlines owner Ang Tshering Sherpa, pilot Prabhakar KC, under secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Yubaraj Dahal, Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Birendra Kumar Shrestha, and Authority’s Dhurba Das Bhochhibhoya, who had gone to Chuhandanda of Tehrathum for feasibility study of airport, were killed when returning from the nearby Pathivara temple in Taplejung.
The subcommittee under the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament making its report public on January 2 accused Minister Adhikari of complicity in procurement of the two wide-body planes and the PAC later put only moral responsibility on him.
The government had claimed the subcommittee did not investigate completing due procedures and the subcommittee led by Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Rajan KC had politicized investigation even as the seven-member subcommittee had only another NC lawmaker in Meena Subba while there were Krishna Lal Maharjan, Dharmasheela Chapagain and Prem Bahadur Ale from the ruling CPN, Pradeep Yadav from coalition partner Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, and Chanda Chaudhary of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal that has supported the government.