KATHMANDU, Feb 24: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's plans to expand his three-member cabinet couldn't materialize on Friday either as coalition partner CPN (Maoist Center) failed to furnish names for the posts of speaker of the lower house of parliament and seven ministers which have been allocated to the party. Maoist party insiders said they couldn't recommend the names to the prime minister mainly because multiple key leaders staked claims to the post of speaker.
Maoist leaders said a meeting of the party held on Friday was about to finalize the name list for the ministers, but their intra-party negotiations couldn't finalize the list as some senior leaders wanted to become speaker.
So they are now holding discussions to agree on a list for the speaker and the seven ministers in a package, said a Maoist leader involved in the team formed for nominating the ministerial candidates.
Jokh Bahadur Mahara, personal secretary to Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said the party is likely to finalize the names by Sunday morning.
Top party sources inform that former deputy prime minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and former ministers Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Dev Gurung are in the race for speaker.
Though former speaker Onsari Gharti has expressed a wish to be reelected to the post, her chances are low as her husband Barshaman Pun has been lined up for a major ministry at the next government expansion, said the source.
Many-times former minister Mahara has been lobbying for speaker as his chances of landing a ministership again have become slim. Likewise, former law minister Gurung is also eying the post of speaker, citing his experience in legal and parliamentary matters.
Though Pokhrel prefers to land one of the powerful ministries, the party has offered him speaker, the source claimed.
Meanwhile, former defense minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and former finance minister Barshaman Pun have both been staking their claim to the Home Ministry in the new government. According to party sources, Thapa is likely to lead the party in the new government and also handle the influential ministry. With Pun, who is a confidant of Maoist Chairman Dahal, also claiming the Home Ministry, the party has been unable to finalize the seven ministers from the party for the Oli government.
Maoist interlocutors said that Thapa, Pun, Pokhrel, Matrika Yadav, Bina Magar, Hit Bahadur Tamang, Agni Sapkota, Shakti Basnet, Devendra Paudel, Chandra Prakash Khanal, Shanta Kumar Tharu are in the fray for ministerial posts in the new government.