KATHMANDU, July 15: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur is planning a cabinet expansion early this week, inducting over a dozen new ministers into his eight-member cabinet from his own Nepali Congress (NC) party and ruling coalition ally CPN (Maoist Center).
Although Maoist Center has nearly finalized the names of ministers who will represent it in the government, Prime Minster Deuba has found it difficult to manage the others, mostly those from the NC establishment faction.
Deuba had postponed cabinet expansion till after the local polls in a bid to manage the large number of aspirants from his party. He had inducted three ministers each from NC and Maoist Center and one from Nepal Loktantrik Forum when he assumed office on June 7.
Party leaders have said that under the power-sharing deal between the ruling parties, NC will get 12 ministries and Maoist Center nine. But the numbers of ministers from the two ruling parties could well exceed that as Rastriya Prajatantra Party is not joining the government, said one party leader who has kept up with developments.
The two parties have formed a task force comprising Bimalendra Nidhi and Ramesh Lekhak from NC and Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Barshaman Pun from Maoist Center to finalize the power-sharing deal and division of ministries.
“The cabinet will be expended within a few days and we are now finalizing the division of ministries between the ruling parties, after which the names of the ministers will be finalized,” said NC leader Ramesh Lekhak on Saturday.
Prime Minister Deuba is waiting for Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to arrive back in Kathmandu for finalizing the power sharing deal. Dahal is scheduled to return Sunday from Thailand after the treatment of his wife Sita.
“Our party will not send those who were ministers in the Sushil Koirala government and the Dahal government. But the names are yet to be finalized,” said NC's Ram Hari Khatiwada.
According to sources, Deuba, who is also NC president, has lined up four ministers for the Ram Chandra Paudel faction and one each for the Krishna Sitaula and Khum Bahadur Khadka panels, with the remaining three from the establishment faction.
But managing the ministerial aspirants from his own faction has become challenge for Deuba as there are a dozen of them. Min Bahadur Biswakarma, Bhisma Raj Angdembe, Bir bahadur Balayar, Bharat Shah, Amrit Aryal, Ramhari Khatiwada, Mahendra Yadav, Bahadur Singh Lama, Ambika Basnet and Mahalaxmi Upadhyaya (Dina) are the main aspirants from the Deuba faction.
Likewise, Bal Bahadur KC, Badri Pandey, Ram Krishna Yadav, Rajendra KC and Kamala Panta are in the fray from the Paudel faction. Bhimsen Das Pradhan is a likely minister from Sitaula's team but Chandra Maharjan from the same panel is also staking a claim. NC sources said that Mohan Basnet is likely to bag a ministerial post fior the Khum Bahadur Khadka panel, but Khadka's own wife Sila Khadka is an aspirant as well.
Maoist Center has almost finalized the ministers it is to send into Deuba's cabinet.
This party has also given priority to not repeating the faces from the recent Dahal and Oli governments . However, Giriraj Mani Pokharel is likely to become a minister again and Shiva Kumar Mandal, Shyam Kumar Shrestha, Kanchan Khanal, Sita Nepali, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, Tek Bahadur Basnet and Asha Koirala are also hopefuls from the party.
“New ministers will be inducted in the cabinet within a week. Our party has almost finalized the names,” said Maoist Center Parliamentary Party Deputy Leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi at an interaction Saturday.