With eye on amendment, PM expands cabinet

Published On: March 10, 2017 12:00 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

Kamal Thapa appointed DPM and local development minister, Dilnath Giri made tourism minister
KATHMANDU, March 10: With chairman of the recently unified Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Kamal Thapa, sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Local Development, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government seems quite close to getting the seven-point constitution amendment bill endorsed by parliament. 

Chairman Thapa, who was DPM with foreign as well as local development ministerial portfolios, has remained critical about the constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament on November 29, 2016.

Prime Minister Dahal has inducted one additional minister -- Dilnath Giri (Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation) from the RPP. 

While senior Maoist Center leader Hitraj Pandey held the Ministry of Local Development, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi of Nepali Congress was heading the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Shahi will now be given the portfolio of Ministry of Water Supply.

Two other ministers from RPP - Dipak Bohora (Minister for Supplies) and Bikram Pandey (Minister for Land Reform) are already in the Dahal-led cabinet. Bohora and Pandey had joined the current cabinet before the RPP led by Prakash Chandra Lohani and Thapa-led RPP-Nepal held a joint convention last month.

Dahal's move to include Thapa and Giri in the cabinet is seen as an attempt to get the seven-point constitution amendment bill endorsed by parliament. Sources close to the Prime Minister's Office said Dahal now expects the support of the fourth largest party in endorsing the amendment bill.

Parliament has a total of 595 members and it requires at least 397 votes to endorse the amendment bill. If Thapa supports the amendment bill as expected by the PM, the government will be short of only three votes in parliament to get the amendment bill endorsed. 

For this, the government will have to bring a few fringe parties from the nine-party opposition alliance on board the government to secure the required votes. The government has been approaching the political parties that decided to join the UML-led opposition alliance including Janamukti Party, Nepal Family Party and Bahujan Shakti Party. 

Many leaders from the ruling parties also see Dahal's decision to appoint Thapa a DPM as a tactical move to secure a strong majority support to the government even if the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) withdraws its support to the government. The UDMF has given a week's deadline to PM Dahal to cancel the local poll announced for May 14, and revise and get the amendment bill endorsed by the House. 

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