UML in favor of reinstating Lamichhane as Home Minister, Maoist Center opposed to the idea

Published On: January 31, 2023 03:30 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Jan 31: Differences have started to surface between the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center), two major parties of the current ruling coalition. The views of the two parties differed on whether the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) should get the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Rabi Lamichhane of RSP had his Nepali citizenship deactivated after taking US citizenship, but he did not take a new citizenship after renouncing US citizenship. So, the Supreme Court ruled that he is guilty in the citizenship issue. But Lamichhane has returned to the responsibility of the chairman of the party after taking the new Nepali citizenship on Sunday and is also trying to return to the position of deputy prime minister and home minister. According to the constitution of Nepal, there is a provision to become a minister for 6 months even if such a minister is not a member of parliament. Meanwhile, Lamichhane will try to become an MP again through a by-election in Chitwan-2. That's why Lamichhane wants to return as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister as soon as possible.

The CPN-UML is of the opinion that the ministry that was allotted to the RSP should not be taken by other parties, while the Maoists want to keep it with themselves. After the move of Maoists to increase closeness with the opposition parties under the pretext of the Home Ministry, UML has increased pressure saying that the responsibility of that ministry should be given to RSP. The UML has suspected this move by the Maoists could be an attempt to reshuffle the ruling coalition. On Sunday evening, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and asked him to hand over the Ministry of Home Affairs to RSP immediately. Oli also has increased pressure on Prime Minister Dahal by saying that Lamichhane should be returned to his old responsibility.

After meeting Oli, Lamichhane himself also met Prime Minister Dahal and asked him to appoint him as the Home Minister. Lamichhane also warned Prime Minister Dahal that if he is not appointed as a minister immediately, he will talk through the political mechanism. But the meeting of the political mechanism has not been held.

In a meeting of his party’s office-bearers, Maoist Chairman Dahal said that there was pressure from the UML and asked for an opinion on whether to return Lamichhane to the home ministry. Most of the leaders who spoke in the meeting suggested that Prime Minister Dahal should keep the Ministry of Home Affairs with himself until the presidential election.

In the meeting of party office-bearers, Deputy General Secretary Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Secretary Hitman Shakya, Chakrapani Khanal and other leaders suggested that the Home Minister should be appointed from the Maoist Center. Among them, Basnet himself is also interested in becoming the home minister. After Lamichhane's exit, the way is open for him to become a minister. After Lamichhane became the deputy prime minister, many Maoist leaders were reluctant to join the government, but now the way has been opened by the exit of Lamichhane, and the Maoist leaders are insisting on keeping the Ministry of Home Affairs with themselves.

In the official meeting, the Maoist leaders said that for the Prime Minister to be successful, one of the ministries of home, finance and foreign affairs should be with their own party and said that none of these ministries are part of the Maoists. In the meeting, the leaders pressured Prime Minister Dahal not to appoint a non-MP as a minister in the name of keeping the alliance intact. "Leaders have suggested to Dahal not to do improper work in the name of preserving power," said Sri Ram Dhakal, Maoist office secretary. Basnet, who is also Dahal's confidant, can participate in the government if the Home Ministry is kept by the Maoists. According to a source close to the Maoists, Deputy Prime Minister Narayankaji Shrestha, who is currently holding the Ministry of Physical, Infrastructure and Transport, is also interested in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

But RSP has already warned that they will quit the government if they do not get the Ministry of Home Affairs. "It is not a question of who will get the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is part of the RSP, and what will be done, the party meeting will decide on who will be sent even if the chairman is not in charge of the ministry," said the spokesperson of the RSP Mukul Dhakal. Even though the chairman of RSP Lamichhane has resigned from the post, he has not vacated the official residence. "He will take over the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is no need to leave the government residence or return the security personnel," said one of the leaders of the party. Bishnu Rizal, deputy head of the campaign department of CPN-UML, also said that the ministry belonging to the RSP should not be changed immediately.

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