PM expanding cabinet to secure two-thirds votes for amendment

Published On: January 14, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

Thapa, Gachchhadar likely to become DPMs 
KATHMANDU, Jan 14: As the main opposition party, which claims to have in its fold more than one third of votes in parliament, has vowed to scuttle the constitution amendment bill, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has expedited preparations to induct more ministers in his cabinet in an apparent bid to garner support of more parties in favor of the statute amendment bill.

Highly-placed sources said Prime Minister Dahal has already held talks with the top leaders of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D) and various fringe parties including the Janashakti Party Loktantrik, Nepal Family Party, Bahujan Shakti Party and Nepa Party to bring them on board the amendment bill. The government is optimistic that it would be able to secure the required two-thirds majority votes in favor of the bill once the top leaders of these parties currently in the opposition rank are brought on board the government. 

As uncertainty looms whether the amendment bill would be passed in parliament, the agitating Madhes-based parties on Friday queried the prime minister about the government's strategy to endorse the constitution amendment bill. Prime Minister Dahal told the Madhesi leaders that he was trying to bring more parties on board the government to endorse the constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament.

The top leaders of the Madhes-based parties had told the prime minister during the meeting that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure two-thirds majority in favor of the amendment bill. "Prime Minister informed us that he is trying to bring RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa and Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D) Chairman Bijaya Gachchhadar in the government in order to garner two-thirds votes in favor of the amendment bill. We said we have no objection to his plan," Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato told Republica.

Sources said NC and the CPN (Maoist Center) have made informal understanding to keep the Home Ministry and Finance Ministry for themselves, and are open to negotiations for the other ministries if the parties under negotiations decided to join the government. While the Home Ministry is currently held by the NC, the Finance Ministry is with the Maoist Center. 

The ruling parties have made informal understanding to provide the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister and any one of the four ministries --Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation and Ministry of Information and Communications-- should RPP Chairman Thapa and MPRF-D Chairman Gachchhadar decided to join the government. Top leaders of a few other fringe parties are also likely to get ministerial berths if the plan of the prime minister becomes successful. 

Asked if they had been approached by Prime Minister Dahal to join the government, Deputy Spokesperson of RPP Mohan Shrestha said the prime minister had repeatedly approached his party for it. "It is true that the prime minister has been repeatedly requesting us to join the government. But we have not taken any decision," Shrestha told Republica. The RPP, after the unification between RPP and RPP-Nepal, has now a total of 37 votes in parliament.
Sources said Prime Minister Dahal plans to administer oath of office to a few ministers after his return home from United Arab Emirates if things go in the "right direction". Prime Minister Dahal is leaving for UAE on Saturday on a four-day visit to participate in the World Future Energy Summit 2017. 

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