Newly-elected Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal assumes office at Singha Durbar Thursday.(Dipesh Shrestha/Republica)
KATHMANDU, Aug 5: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal assumed office on Thursday after taking oath of office and secrecy from the president earlier in the day.
He has formed a small cabinet with two deputy prime ministers and three other ministers from his own CPN (Maoist Center) and the other major coalition partner Nepali Congress (NC).
Dahal appointed NC's Bimalendra Nidhi as deputy prime minister and home minister and Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara as deputy prime minister and finance minister.
Similarly, NC's Ramesh Lekhak has been appointed minister for physical planning and infrastructure, Maoist leader Daljit Bishwakarma Sripali has been given the youth and sports portfolio while Gaurishankar Chaudhary of the same party has been appointed minister for agriculture.
Leaders from the two parties have also finalized the list of ministries to be headed by them. A meeting of leaders from the two sides on Thursday morning agreed to give NC 13 different ministries and the Maoist Center eight ministries except for those to be overseen by the prime minister.
Nidhi, DPM and Home Minister
Mahara, DPM and Finance Minister
Ramesh Lekhak, Minister for Physical Planning and Infrastructure
Daljit Sripali, Minister for Youth and Sports
Gaurishankar Chaudhary, Minister for Agriculture
According to Maoist Center's spokesperson Pampha Bhusal the prime minister's party will get the energy, education, communications, law and justice, and local development among other portfolios.
"We will finalize the ministers for the remaining ministries within few days after holding discussions within the party," Bhusal told Republica.
The NC, which is the largest party in parliament, will get foreign affairs, defense, general administration, tourism, forest, labor, health, urban development, drinking water and sanitation, and peace and reconstruction portfolios.
The two parties have set aside other ministries including the ministry of commerce and supply; land reforms; women, children and social welfare; science and technology; and the ministry of industry for other fringe parties in the ruling coalition.
Dispute in NC
Though the prime minister and NC leaders had earlier planned to include some more ministers from the NC during the oath taking ceremony, two NC leaders -- Shekhar Koirala and Arjun Narasingh KC -- refused to join the government on Thursday.
According to members close to Koirala, he didn't take oath of office and secrecy on Thursday stating that he should first be assured foreign affairs portfolio.
"It wasn't Koirala, who demanded the ministry, but the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba himself proposed him to head the ministry. But, later it was not confirmed. So he didn't join the government today," said a member close to Koirala.
Similarly, KC had demanded the ministry of home affairs or any other powerful ministry. According to his aide Saroj KC, the party president proposed him to head two ministries -- defense and health -- but he turned down the offer.