KATHMANDU, June 11: With the second phase local elections fast approaching, the major ruling parties are unlikely to pick more ministers and give full shape to the government before the polls scheduled for June 28 are over.
Leaders from the ruling parties said that both Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Chairman of CPN (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal are not inclined to appoint more ministers before the polls, sensing that the aspirants for ministerial position may resort to non-cooperation toward the parties and candidates if their aspirations are not met.
Stating that he wasn't going to pick new ministers before the polls, Deuba has already instructed the aspirants not to lobby for ministerial berths but to go to their local constituencies and prepare the ground for local elections, informed party insiders.
Deuba formed an eight-member cabinet with four members from Nepali Congress (NC), three from CPN (Maoist Center) and one from Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NLF) on Wednesday.
“The cabinet expansion is unlikely before the second phase polls. We haven't discussed appointing any additional ministers so far,” said NC leader and former foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat. However, another leader of the party, Sita Gurung, said that the prime minister can appoint at least a women ministers before the polls, in view of the criticism over there being no woman minister in the cabinet.
Out of 31 ministries, NC and the Maoist Center have agreed to allocate 11 ministries to NC, nine to the Maoists and the remaining 10 to the other fringe parties. Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) have demanded four ministries each including a deputy prime minister. Likewise, Bijay Gachchhadar's NLF has demanded three ministers in Deuba's cabinet.
CPN (Maoist Center) is also in no hurry to send more ministers into the government, said the party's leaders. “The party chairman is away right now. We don't plan sending additional ministers before next week,” said Maoist Center Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal.
Another leader of the party said that the Maoists can recommend a few ministers before the polls to represent the Karnali region, the Dalit community or women.
Party leaders say that NC and the Maoists are yet to finalize who should get which ministry as they are awaiting confirmation from the Kamal Thapa-led RPP and Upendra Yadav-led FSFN about joining the government. “If they join the government they will have first choice of the remaining 22 ministries,” said one leader, requesting not to be named.
RPP leader Dilnath Giri said that the party will take a decision on whether to join the government or not after meeting Prime Minister Deuba on Sunday. The party has already stated that it will join the government if the ruling parties agreed to accommodate them with respectable cabinet position.
However, the NC and Maoist Center have sought RPP's position on constitution amendment before welcoming the party into the government. The government had to postpone its plans to put the amendment bill to a vote in parliament after 10 RPP lawmakers absented themselves from the House meeting on the day scheduled for the voting.