KATHMANDU, August 21: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had courted controversy for forming the largest-ever cabinet in his second stint as prime minister back in 1996.
If his plan this time is actually implemented, Deuba is again set to break all previous records in cabinet formation including the 49-member jumbo cabinet formed by the then-Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
Indeed, Deuba in his fourth stint as the prime minister is about to create history again by forming the largest-ever cabinet in Nepal. While the prime minister inducted eight state ministers from the CPN (Maoist Center) on Sunday, he plans to induct another 12 state ministers from his own party, Nepali Congress (NC), and three others from Nepal Loktantrik Forum soon, according to NC Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha.
Although the Constitution has a provision not to exceed 25 ministers in the cabinet, each successive government after the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015 has been violating the provision. They argue that the provision is meant to be effective only after the federal parliament is in place.
Deuba’s cabinet currently has 13 ministers from NC, nine ministers from the Maoist Center, three ministers from Nepal Loktantrik Forum and one from the CPN (Samyukta). With the induction of eight state ministers from the Maoist Center on Sunday, the number of ministers in Deuba’s cabinet has reached 34 already.
The state ministers inducted from the Maoist Center on Sunday include Shyam Kumar Shrestha (Home), Chham Bahadur Gurung (Urban Development), Ram Singh Yadav (Health), Shambhu Lal Shrestha (Energy), Wangdi Sherpa (General Administration), Karna Bahadur BK (Supply), Goma Kunwar (Livestock Development) and Mohammad Jakir Hussein (Women, Children and Social Welfare).
And, if the number of state ministers from NC and Nepal Loktantrik Forum which Deuba plans to induct immediately in his cabinet is taken into account, the number will reach 48.
Prime Minister Deuba currently holds various four ministerial portfolios including Industry; Forest and Soil Conservation; Science and Technology; and Peace and Reconstruction in his bid to bring fringe parties including Rastriya Prajatantra Party onboard the cabinet.
Party insiders say no matter which parties decide to join the cabinet, they are sure to appoint state ministers as well. This will eventually make the cabinet largest-ever in Nepal’s history, taking the number to 56.