Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Twisting the truth

Pradip Nepal, central working committee member CPN-UML

Within a single week 150,000 Nepalis expressed their support for policies adopted by the CPN-UML to oppose the regressive royal move. The newspapers, which had previously claimed that political parties could not mobilise people published 11 different reports on the mass mobilisation. Some newspapers "black out" the news because their claims have been refuted. The largest mass meeting was organised in Butwal where, according to official government tallies, nearly 60,000 people participated. More than 25,000 people turned up for the meetings in Pokhara.

I should have been happy, but I wasn't. On my return after the radio therapy sessions I had written in the last 32 years the state had only tortured me. This time it helped me and I should return the favour. I don't need to be grateful for my cure. I need to pay the country back before I leave this world. But a news item by the RSS last week made me change my mind again. Perhaps I would've been happier if I had died of my disease. Dr. Devkota can you give me the gift of death?

Earlier, when I predicted the defamation of the political leaders would begin, my friends scolded me for being too suspicious. They expected a degree of decency from the government. Unfortunately I was right. The state owned news agency RSS, referring to an old report, tried to tarnish the image of pro-multiparty leaders for spending more than Rs 10 million on medical expenditures. The RSS generally ignores reports released by the Public Accounts Committee, but this time it cited an old report to raise the issue. It is obvious that it is an attempt to damage the image of political leaders so that the general people overlook what's happening within the present government.

The ones without character will be unaffected, and those with strong characters are never assassinated by the press. When Shrisha Karki committed suicide, Kishor Shrestha was lambasted for his actions. Politicians may not commit suicide, but the RSS news was not less painful in any way. Even Kishor Shrestha had not twisted the truth so severely. The RSS perspective makes it look like Man Mohan Adhikari had extracted Rs 450,000 to pay a printing press for publishing election campaign leaflets. What can be a bigger journalistic crime than the deliberate obstruction of truth and the fudging of facts?

It could have been lauded if RSS had dared to write that a person who is a minister in the present "clean" government had his campaign leaflet bills reimbursed from the medical fund provided to parliamentarians. But by twisting the truth it has blackened the face of the Nepal Press Council and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists. I am not sure whether the council, federation and other media organisations that bashed Kishor would be able to even touch the RSS. It remains to be seen if the guardians of morality who compelled Kishor to publicly apologise will be able to order the RSS to do the same.

Nepal has a precept and tradition of financially supporting the medical treatment of those who contribute to the country. The late Man Mohan Adhikari and KP Oli were both offered these benefits, as mentioned in the PAC report, after a serious helicopter accident. The RSS report made it look like the political leaders had grafted the money out of the national coffer. It was just a case of our country paying respect to these personalities for their contributions.

I state here that these series of attempts to defame the pro-multiparty leaders will continue, because it is not merely journalism but, in fact, is politics.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)