June 6, 2017 08:05 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 5: CPN (Maoist Center), a key ally in the ruling coalition, is struggling to finalize names to fill the party’s share of ministerial portfolios in the new council of ministers, due to jostling among various factions. Maoist Center leaders said that three different factions have been mounting pressure on party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to induct their respective loyalists into the new cabinet.
As part of the power sharing deal reached with the Nepali Congress last year, the party is expected to get 40 percent of total ministries including the Ministry of Home Affairs. Leaders expect that the party could get a maximum of six ministries, depending on how many other parties join the government.
Leaders close to Chairman Dahal said that the biggest dispute is over the deputy prime ministerial and home ministry portfolio. Leaders said three top names including Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Barshaman Pun and Ram Bahadur Thapa are demanding a chance for their loyalists to get into government.
While PM Dahal looks keen to give another chance to outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara to led the party in the new cabinet also with the home ministry portfolio, several others remain opposed to this.
“Mahara Ji is more or less confirmed to lead the party but he may not get home minister. The party leadership is under immense pressure to give the home ministry to Janardan Sharma,” said one party leader.
Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Shakti Basnet have insisted that they should get a chance to lead the party in the new cabinet.
Talking to reporters at an interaction in the capital Monday, Rayamajhi said he was the natural candidate to lead the party in the new cabinet.
“I am deputy parliamentary party leader. So I’m the natural candidate to lead the party,” said Rayamajhi. But sources said party headquarters is not in a mood to give Rayamajhi or Basnet a chance this time.
There is similar lobbying for other portfolios though the names remain to be decided. Probable ministerial candidates from the party include Hitraj Pandey , Prabhu Shah, Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Sita Nepali, Shyam Kumar Shrestha, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, Tek Bahadur Basnet and Asha Koirala.
CPN (Maoist Center) Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said the party remains undecided whether to choose old faces again or send in new ones. She said the party would decide the deputy prime ministerial candidate by Tuesday afternoon.
“Party headquarters is currently focused on picking the deputy prime ministerial candidate who will lead the party in the government. Since he alone would be the one to be sworn in early, there is little urgency. We will gradually pick candidates for other portfolios,” said Bhusal.