KATHMANDU, Nov 17: Even as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli replaced some of his aides and advisors, the much-talked-about cabinet reshuffle is expected to take some more time despite the prime minister’s series of consultations with top ruling leaders about changing the ministers of his Cabinet.
Although the PM had earlier made a tentative plan to replace his aides and Cabinet members within mid-November, cabinet reshuffle is likely to be delayed due to a couple of reasons. Party leaders say PM Oli is hesitating to change the members of his Cabinet right now keeping the upcoming by-polls in mind.
Both the leaders and aides of PM Oli, who spoke anonymously, said the leaders are concerned whether replacing the ministers could affect the poll results. The by-polls scheduled for November 30 are seen as a referendum to test Oli government’s popularity since he came to power in 2017.
The election being held to fill 52 vacant positions in all three tiers of governments including a seat of House of Representative in Kaski is seen as a matter of prestige for the parties mainly between Oli’s Nepal Communist Party and main opposition Nepali Congress. The main opposition party is trying to prove Oli government wrong by winning the by-polls whereas the ruling party wants to give a positive message to the public by retaining its influence.
NCP had won most seats in 2017’s provincial and parliamentary elections, where the poll is taking place later at the end of this month. Keeping the upcoming election in mind, Oli is in a dilemma whether to reshuffle the Cabinet immediately.
“That’s why it seems the Cabinet reshuffle could be prolonged,” said an advisor to PM Oli, “Also, he has shared with us the development about changing ministers. The media is talking more about the Cabinet reshuffle”
PM’s health and indecisiveness about whom to remove from the Cabinet are also considered as other major reasons behind the delay in reshuffling the Cabinet.
PM Oli, who underwent the third dialysis on Saturday in the recent two weeks, is said to be considering to go abroad to consult with top doctors about whether to continue regular dialysis or second kidney transplant, is in consultation with his personal physicians.
Maintaining the internal power balance has also emerged as a major challenge in changing the ministers immediately. “The PM wants to replace few non-performers but the non-performers are backed by influential party leaders. Also, the non-performing ministers have secured good marks in internal assessment,” said a minister elaborating on the difficulties in replacing the non-performers.
Informed sources say the PM is not happy with Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Bina Magar, Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Raghubir Mahaseth, Federal Affairs and General Administration Minister Lalbabu Pandit, Youth and Sports Minister Jagat Bishwakarma and Labor, Employment and Social Security Minister Gokarna Bista among others. But unnecessary lobbying to name new ministers and confusions over whom to remove from the Cabinet are likely to further prolong changes in Oli’s Cabinet, say the ruling party leaders.