When on March 29 morning finance secretary Khanal walked out of his office and went for a short hibernation, it was the proverbial last straw that had broken the camel’s back.
To his close acquaintances, finance secretary Khanal used to express the growing disenchantment with the ‘all-around corruption and greed’.
But, close sources have confided, enough was enough for him when, on that morning, he was hinted, on no uncertain terms, that his dissatisfaction with the manner the supplementary budget was being prepared and the policy direction it was adopting, was being perceived as ‘non-cooperation’ by the prime minister.
Immediately afterwards, he put in his papers to the Chief Secretary.
He actually submitted two different letters to the Chief Secretary – one requesting two weeks long leave and another stating his resignation to be effective from April 13.
As far as the deputy prime minister and finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikary was concerned, all hell broke loose after Khanal’s sudden departure and his subsequent silence.
What resulted in the theories of runaway secretary was his apparent hibernation and lack of knowledge about his whereabouts to even his minister and ministry colleagues.
Different media gave different spins to the story. The ‘Freedom is so precious” line secretary Khanal posted on his Facebook wall before vanishing also unleashed numerous conspiracy theories.
The mud hit the fan. Smeared were the finance minister, prime minister, ruling coalition and even some business houses.
Stories of how Khanal was being pushed to loosen the pace at which the Ministry was conducting investigations on the billion rupees evasion of Value Added Tax (VAT) through the use of fake receipts by the minister under influence of business houses; to how Khanal’s action against casino royalty defaulters and Unity scamsters had drawn ire from certain quarters had been pushed to front pages of the newspapers.
Government In Fire
Four days after he left office, Khanal returned to the capital and remarked that it was his personal decision to leave office.
But much had changed by that time.
Minister Adhikari had been forced to make public his whole-hearted support to actions against fake VAT bill users.