Saturday, March 2, 2019

Architect of social security programme, Adhikari no more

Architect of the elderly allowance and local level empowerment programme former deputy prime minister and finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari breathed his last at Dhumbarahi-based Hospital for Advanced Medicine and Surgery (HAMS) today at 9.35pm.
Adhikari (82) – who was undergoing treatment for heart and respiratory problems at HAMS – is survived by his wife and three daughters.
HAMS Hospital – issuing a press note – confirmed the news late in the evening. "We are very sad to announce that Bharat Mohan Adhikari, who was undergoing treatment at this hospital for the last 23 days, has passed away at 9:35 pm today,” the press note reads.
"Adhikari breathed his last at 9:35 pm," HAMS in its press note further reads, adding that Adhikari died due to multiple organ failure. "Though, his condition had improved a few days ago, his condition began to deteriorate three days ago."
Earlier today afternoon, the hospital - in a statement -- has also said that Adhikari had developed symptoms of multiple organs failure.
The senior NCP leader Adhikari – who also served as deputy prime minister twice – was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the past few days following lung and heart-related complications.
Adhikari – a four-time finance minister – was a permanent resident of Morang district and the brother of former prime minister Man Mohan Adhikari. Born in Bhramarpur of Mahottari on May 4, 1936, he was a four-time member of parliament from Morang district. During his political career, Adhikari also worked as the then CPN-UML’s deputy parliamentary party leader and transportation minister.
However, he was popular – during his tenure as the finance minister in the cabinet of prime minister Man Mohan Adhikari in 1994 – for introducing the 'Aafno Gaun Aafai Banau' programme, a development programme aimed at developing villages across the country, giving them the authority to select local projects on their own. Under the programme, Adhikari allocated Rs 500,000 to each Village Development Committee (VDC), though the local bodies used to get money through the district bodies earlier.
Though the first elected communist government lasted only nine months, Adhikari's popular programme including the senior citizens social security programme was a policy departure as it started the realisation of the government's responsibility towards its senior citizen. Adhikari decided to provide Rs 100 as a monthly allowance to each citizen aged above 75 in his budget in 1995. Though opposition Nepali Congress (NC) party initially opposed Adhikari’s policy, saying that a distributive budget policy won’t help the country’s development in the long run as it would only be a huge burden on state coffers and suck huge resources, all the successive governments including the ones led by NC couldn’t stop the programme. The elderly allowance programme – over the time – ha widened the areas of the social security schemes introduced by Adhikari, and increased the allowance. The elderly allowance has become Rs 2,000 as of the current fiscal year.
Likewise, the 'Aafno Gaun Aafai Banau' programme was also a signature programme of the then CPN (UML) – currently Nepal Communist Party (NCP) – that has been cashed by the party even in the last election after almost two decade-and-a-half to gain the overhealming majority to form the incumbent KP Sharma Oli led government. Though the programme was a counter to Nepali Congress that had allocated 80 per cent budget to the village, it gave power to the local authorities to exercise their right to develop their place by themselves.
Adhikari also played an important role as a member of the constitution drafting committee in 1990 and was actively involved in drafting the Interim Constitution of 2007.
A liberal and moderate leader, Adhikari became full-time party leader after the 1990-movement, shifting his base from his native town of Biratnagar to Kathmandu. In Biratnagar, Adhikari used to practice law.
A Standing Committee member in then CPN-UML, Adhikari has announced his retirement from active politics in 2014 as the party – during the 9th General Convention – put 70 years of age limit to be involved in the active party politics.

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