Ruling CPN has challenged Janata Samajwadi Party leader Baburam Bhatatrai to prove his allegation that CPN Chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal shared bribe from the Budhigandaki Hydropower Project.
Former prime minister (PM) Bhattarai had alleged that Oli, Dahal and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba shared a bribe of Rs 9 billion among them in the project while addressing a program in Gorkha a few days back.
NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma immediately issued a statement challenging Bhattarai to prove his allegation.
CPN has followed suit issuing a statement on Wednesday challenging Bhattarai to make the evidence public and provide it to the state authorities concerned. The statement issued by CPN Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha has sought a public apology from Bhatatrai for what it calls is a baseless allegation.
"There should be a public apology for such objectionable and irresponsible statement from a person who has served at the top most position of the state," the statement says.
Bhattarai, on his part, has been demanding a high level probe committee to investigate the facts about the project.
The government has awarded the contract for development of the project to China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), which has a dodgy record in Nepal and is blacklisted in other countries, without free competition.
The Oli government in September 2018 decided to award the 1200 MW project to the Chinese company which had applied for the project with the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM).
The then Pushpa Kamal Dahal government on May 23, 2017, when Janardan Sharma was energy minister, had decided to award the project to CGGC under the engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model without a bidding process. The decision to award the project to the Chinese company with a dodgy record in Nepal and blacklisted in other countries was widely condemned.
The subsequent Sher Bahadur Deuba government on November 13, 2017 had revoked the decision to award the contract to CGGC. It then decided to award the project to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). It had formed a committee under National Planning Commission (NPC) Vice Chairman Swarnim Wagle and including finance and energy secretaries, and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor and managing director of NEA to study about investment arrangements.
The subsequent Oli government then gave back the project to the Chinese company. Bhattarai alleges that the three top leaders shared bribe while awarding the project.