RPP exclusion in expanded cabinet kills amendment hopes

Published On: July 27, 2017 07:39 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 26: The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has refused to join the coalition government citing reservations over the number of ministerial portfolios allocated to the party.

RPP leaders said that the internal tussle raging in the party was also a reason why the party opted to stay out of the cabinet. Sources said RPP had demanded five ministerial portfolios.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who was initially prepared to induct RPP at any cost, later changed his mind after it became clear that a section of the RPP leadership was not in support of the proposed constitution amendment. A group of RPP lawmakers considered loyal to former King Gynendra Shah are against the amendment. 

“We stayed out of the government after the party was denied respectable status in the cabinet,” said an RPP leader who was involved in the negotiations with the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Center).

RPP’s exclusion from the cabinet has for now ended the possibility of amending the constitution before the elections in Province 2.

Hours after Wednesday’s cabinet expansion, RPP leaders announced to dissolve a committee formed to hammer out a deal on power-sharing. The committee comprises party general secretary Jayanta Chand, Kunti Shahi and Dilnath Giri.

Talking to Republica, Giri hinted that the party may rethink its position on constitution amendment. Last week, a central committee meeting of the party had announced to support the proposed amendment.

“The party will take an appropriate decision about its relation with the governing coalition and on major political issues,” said Giri. He did not explain what that decision would be.
Some other RPP leaders said that the party stayed out of the cabinet due to growing rift between two factions led by Chairman Kamal Thapa and senior leader Pashupati Shumshere Rana.

More than five leaders from the Rana faction including Deepak Bohara and Bikram Pandey were pressuring Thapa to send them to the cabinet. Also, new faces in the party had also been pressuring Thapa for cabinet berths.

“Rana and some other leaders belonging to the erstwhile RPP had even threatened to split the party demanding ministerial berths. But many other had warned Thapa against sending faces like Bohara to the cabinet,” said a leader close to Thapa.

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