August 26, 2016 01:00 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
Seven from Deuba panel, five from Paudel camp and one from Sitaula side
KATHMANDU, Aug 26: Ending weeks-long wrangling over power sharing between the two rival factions within the party, major ruling coalition partner Nepali Congress (NC) has finalized the choice of 13 new ministers it is sending into the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government.
NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, who leads a rival faction within the largest party, and party President Sher Bahadur Deub aagreed to select seven ministers from the Deuba panel, five from the Paudel faction and one from the group led by Krishna Prasad Sitaula.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Ramesh Lekhak, who are both from the Deuba panel, were appointed earlier.
Of the total 15 NC ministers in the Dahal cabinet, Deuba has recommended nine from his panel and six from the rival factions.
Prime Minister Dahal on Thursday appointed the 15 ministers from the NC immediately after he received a recommendation letter from the party, said Prakash Dahal, the prime minister's secretary.
The swearing-in function for the newly-appointed ministers has been scheduled for Friday morning at the Office of the President.
The ministers recommended by the NC are Balkrishna Khand (Minister for Defense), Prakash Saran Mahat (Foreign Affairs), Arjun Narsingh KC (Urban Development), Jeevan Bahadur Shahi (Tourism), Suryaman Gurung (Labor), Keshav Kumar Budhathoki (General Administration) and Shankar Bhandari (Forest) from Deuba's camp.
Sita Devi Yadav (Peace and Reconstruction), Nabindra Raj Joshi (Industry), Deepak Giri (Irrigation), Hridayaram Thani (Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation), and Romi Gauchan (Commerce) have been picked from Paudel's faction.
Similarly, Gagan Thapa has been picked for the Ministry of Health, from the Sitaula faction.
With the appointment of the 13 new ministers from NC, the major ruling coalition partner now has 15 ministries in the Dahal government. Earlier, it was stated that the NC would lead 13 ministries, with the Maoists heading nine ministries including the portfolios held by the prime minister. But Dahal agreed to add two ministerial portfolios upon a request from Deuba as the latter had faced a tough challenge placating Paudel.
CPN (Maoist Center) had earlier appointed eight cabinet ministers and four ministers of state from its quota.
Two ministers from Rastriya Prajatantra Party and one from CPN (Samukyta ) are also in the Maoist-led government.
With the addition of the new ministers, the size of Dahal's cabinet has now reached 30, including the PM himself.
The first government formed after the promulgation of the new Constitution, which was led by CPN-UML Chairman K P Oli, was fiercely criticized by the then opposition NC and other parties for exceeding the limit of 25 ministers provisioned by the Constitution. The present government has also breached the constitutional limit, even before appointing new ministers from some other fringe parties that had supported the election of Dahal as prime minister.
The size of the council of ministers can expand significantly as Madhes-based political parties are also likely to join this government.
Ministers will their portfolios
Sita Devi Yadav: Minister for Peace and Reconstruction
Prakash Sharan Mahat: Minister for Foreign Affairs
Arjun Narsingh KC: Minister for Urban Development
Bal Krishna Khand: Minister for Defense
Suryaman Gurung: Minister for Labor
Jeevan Bahadur Sahi: Minister for Tourism
Gagan Thapa: Minister for Health
Keshav Kumar Budhathoki: Minister for General Administration
Dipak Giri: Minister for Irrigation
Romi Gauchhan Thakali: Minister for Commerce
Nabindra Raj Joshi: Minister for Industry
Hridayaram Thami: Minister for Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation