KATHMANDU, July 6: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s ongoing efforts to bring the Madhes-based parties in the coalition government and intra-party feud within Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) are likely to cause further delay in the cabinet expansion.
PM Deuba has not been able to give full shape to his cabinet and make key political appointments even a month after he took the charge of government. PM’s aides claimed that the second phase of local elections was the main reason behind the delay.
But sources said a host of other factors including factional feud in NC and Maoist Center over the ministerial portfolio are the actual reasons for the delay. They said that the ongoing effort to bring the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) in the government is also causing the delay. Deuba is planning to allocate up to five ministries to RJPN and up to four ministries to FSFN.
“Initially, there was an understanding to keep 13 ministries with NC and give nine to Maoist Center. But the number is likely to decrease depending on how many parties join the cabinet,” said an NC leader close to PM Deuba.
Talking to Republica, CPN (Maoist Center) spokesperson Pampha Bhusal however claimed NC’s internal problem as the main reason behind the delay.
“Our party has already finalized the names. NC’s own problems are causing the delay. The cabinet will get full shape once the NC resolves its internal disputes,” said Bhusal.
Despite Bhusal’s claims, CPN (Maoist Center) leaders are also struggling to finalize the names to fill the party’s share of ministerial portfolios in the new council of ministers, due to jostling among several aspirants.
So far, only Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Janardan Sharma and Prabhu Sah have joined the cabinet from the Maoist Center.
There is intense lobbying for the remaining portfolios. Probable ministerial candidates from the Maoist Center for other portfolios include Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Shiva Kumar Mandal, Shyam Kumar Shrestha, Kanchan Khanal, Sita Nepali, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, Tek Bahadur Basnet and Asha Koirala.
“Pokharel, Mandal and Shrestha have better chances this time. There are still doubts whether others will get chance,” said Mani Thapa, a CPN (Maoist Center) leader.
NC is facing even bigger challenge in picking ministerial candidates due to disputes among its factions. The faction led by senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Sitaula have refused to submit names of probable candidates citing dissatisfaction over the number of ministries allocated for them.
“There is dispute over numbers and ministerial portfolio,” said a leader.