KATHMANDU, Oct 7: The plan of Prime Minister K P Oli to bring a reshuffle in the cabinet has failed to materialize as differences continue to persist between PM Oli and the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal over the ministerial candidates.
A Secretariat meeting of the NCP held on Tuesday evening could not dwell on the issue of cabinet reshuffle as discussions are still underway between Oli and Dahal about the ministerial portfolios and ministerial candidates. "Although there have been tentative understanding about the ministerial candidates, there are still some differences about their ministerial portfolios," said NCP Secretariat member, asking not to be named.
Prime Minister Oli is under pressure within the party to appoint the party's Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam as a cabinet member. Party insiders say Gautam is eyeing for the post of finance minister.
But as a writ petition against his appointment as a minister is sub judice at the Supreme Court, the issue of cabinet reshuffle has been put on hold, sources claimed. Cabinet reshuffle is less likely to take place until the apex court gives its verdict whether it is constitutionally valid to appoint a person defeated in the parliamentary election as a minister after his appointment in the National Assembly.
Currently, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICS) are lying vacant. Sources said Prime Minister Oli is personally in favor of appointing the party's General Secretary Bishnu Paudel, one of his trusted lieutenants, as finance minister, while the rival faction within the party wants to see Surendra Pandey being appointed in the ministerial portfolio should the apex court bars Gautam from assuming any ministerial portfolio.
Similarly, Prime Minister Oli and Chairman Dahal are also at odds over who should be given the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoICIT). The Dahal faction has demanded the MoICIT to be given to his faction.
Earlier, Chairman Dahal had proposed to induct all new faces in the cabinet. However, Prime Minister Oli had maintained that it was not possible to remove all current ministers apparently to ensure him a power balance within the party.
Talking to media persons after the Secretariat meeting, NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the issue of cabinet meeting was not discussed in the meeting. He said that Prime Minister Oli did not float the agenda of the cabinet reshuffle in the meeting.
The Secretariat meeting was expected to recommend the name of ministerial candidates in the three ministries that have fallen vacant now. "The issue was not discussed as the prime minister did not float the agenda of the cabinet reshuffle," the Secretariat member told Republica.
The Secretariat meeting has entrusted Oli and Dahal with the responsibility to reach a power-sharing deal within the party and conclude the task of cabinet reshuffle and appointments in the constitutional bodies. "Preliminary discussions have been held on the appointment of ambassadors. The discussion will continue further," said NCP Spokesperson Shrestha.
NCP Secretariat meeting asks Dr KC to withdraw hunger strikes
The Secretariat meeting also urged agitating Dr Gobinda KC to withdraw his hunger strike.
Prime Minister Oli had briefed the Secretariat meeting about the progress made so far in the implementation of the agreements reached with Dr KC in the past. Prime Minister Oli maintained that most of the agreements reached in the past have been already implemented while a few others are in the process of being implemented.
According to an NCP Secretariat member, Prime Minister Oli had argued that it is necessary for Dr KC to withdraw his strikes immediately and discuss them later in view of the COVID-19 pandemic that Nepal is currently experiencing.