Mahesh Acharya had resigned as defense minister after governor’s reinstatement

South Asia Check / April 25, 2022

Kantipur reports on Mahesh Acharya’s resignation following Governor Rawal’s reinstatement by the Supreme Court.

By Pravin Bhatta/South Asia Check

On April 7, 2022 the government suspended Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari. Various news reports claimed that the action against the governor was the result of a tussle between him and Finance Minister Janardan Sharma. On April 17, Adhikari moved the Supreme Court against the government decision. Two days later, on April 19, the apex court issued an interim order reinstating Adhikari. After the governor’s reinstatement, media reports said the finance minister was under moral pressure to resign.

Media reports claimed that in a similar case over two decades ago, “the then finance minister Mahesh Acharya” had resigned on March 29, 2001 after the then governor, Tilak Rawal, was reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Nepali daily Kantipur, English-language daily The Kathmandu Post, and Nepali news website Setopati published news reports claiming that Mahesh Acharya had resigned as finance minister after the court reinstated then Governor Rawal. Also, Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma in a tweet made a similar claim.

South Asia Check fact-checked this claim with the help of archival materials including newspaper reports of that time.

The then Governor Rawal was sacked by the government on August 28, 2000. Within a few days, on September 6, Rawal challenged the decision at the Supreme Court. Then, on March 28, 2001, the court overturned the government decision and reinstated Rawal for his remaining term. 

At the time of Rawal’s sacking, Acharya was finance minister in the Girija Prasad Koirala-led government. Acharya was also assigned the defense portfolio by the government on October 2, 2000 and he held both portfolios until February 7, 2001. On February 8, 2001, Kantipur reported that Koirala reshuffled his cabinet on February 7. Following the reshuffle, Ram Sharan Mahat was appointed finance minister on February 12 while Acharya was made defense minister.

Kantipur reports on cabinet reshuffle by then prime minister, Girija Prasad Koirala in February 2001.

“Observers have viewed the removal of Mahesh Acharya from key responsibility of finance ministry and assignment as defense minister as meaningful since he is regarded as extremely close to the prime minister and also enjoyed the goodwill of donor agencies,” the Kantipur report of February 8, 2001 said.

Kantipur report of October 3, 2000 says Acharya’s appointment as defense minister hints at possible army deployment.

Then on March 28, 2001, the Supreme Court reinstated Governor Rawal stating that his sacking was against the law. After the court verdict, Acharya resigned as defense minister on March 29.

In a report published on March 30, 2001 (see newspaper clip on top), Kantipur said Acharya resigned as defense minister on moral grounds after Governor Rawal was reinstated by the Supreme Court. Likewise, India’s ZEE News published a report on March 29, 2001 under the headline: Nepal’s defense minister resigns. Hence, the claim that Acharya resigned as finance minister after Rawal’s reinstatement is false. He had resigned as defense minister.

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