KATHMANDU, July 24: Amid criticism from various quarters over the prolonged delay, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has decided to expand his cabinet on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Deuba's personal secretary, Keshab Raj Joshi, said internal preparations are already complete for expanding the cabinet. "Internal homework has been done to expand the cabinet. Cabinet expansion is highly likely tomorrow [Tuesday]," he said.
Joshi said that the prime minister wanted to expand the cabinet on Saturday, but his busy schedule over the past few days left him unable to do so. Besides other engagements, the prime minister remained busy due to the ongoing CWC meeting of the Nepali Congress.
On Saturday, Deuba assured CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal that he would expand the cabinet after the conclusion of the CWC meeting. The meeting got prolonged and it concluded only late Monday evening at Deuba's request.
NC and Maoist Center have settled for 13 ministries for NC and nine for Maoist Center. The number of ministerial portfolios for the two parties is likely to increase as Rastriya Prajatantra Party is not very likely to join the government and the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal has already turned down Deuba's request to join up.
Of the 13 ministerial portfolios allocated to NC, Deuba has promised four portfolios to the Ram Chandra Paudel faction and one each to the Krishna Sitaula and Khum Bahadur Khadka factions. Deuba has already appointed three ministers -- Gyanendra Bahadur Karki (Finance), Gopal Man Shrestha (Education) and Farmullaha Mansoor (Labor)--from his party.
Maoist Center, likewise, has already sent Krishna Bahadur Mahara (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign), Janardan Sharma (Home) and Prabhu Shah (Urban) into the cabinet. Similarly, Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar of Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NLF) has been appointed deputy prime minister and minister for local development.
As of Monday, the Deuba-led cabinet is set to include Maoist Center, NLF and CPN (Samyukta) as coalition partners. "Other parties are less likely to be part of the government this time," said Joshi.