PM Deuba inducts 19 ministersPrime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expanded his Cabinet on Wednesday, 50 days after assuming office, and inducted 19 ministers from four political parties.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expanded his Cabinet on Wednesday, 50 days after assuming office, and inducted 19 ministers from four political parties.
After the expansion, the strength of the Deuba Cabinet has reached 27, and another Cabinet expansion will take place soon, ruling party leaders said.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed ministers at Sheetal Niwas on Wednesday afternoon.
PM Deuba, who returned to power at a crucial time with responsibilities like holding remaining phases of local elections, amending the constitution and overseeing two major elections—provincial and federal—by January next year, was under huge pressure to give full shape to his Cabinet.
But the factional feud in his own party, the Nepali Congress (NC), had made it difficult for Deuba to choose ministers and manage portfolios. Change of proposed names even hours before oath ceremony on Wednesday shows how PM Deuba was facing a hard time expanding his Cabinet.
On top of that, Deuba was under pressure to maintain a fine balance while choosing ministers, as representation of caste, groups and region also had to be taken into consideration, according to a senior leader who was engaged in Cabinet expansion talks.
Initially, Arjun Prasad Joshi was proposed from the Deuba camp. But after the Ram Chandra Poudel faction decided to send Ram Krishna Yadav, a lawmaker from the Tarai, the Deuba camp was forced to seek someone from the region. It then brought Mahendra Yadav of Janakpur instead of Joshi at the last moment. The Madhesi representation in the Cabinet is crucial for Deuba in view of the third phase of local elections in Province 2, a Madhesi stronghold, and the PM does not want to take a chance in the wake of NC’s poor showing in the earlier two phases of local polls, said the leader.
The last moment notice to Yadav, who has been appointed minister for drinking water and sanitation, made it difficult for him to arrange “proper attire”, as he had to take oath of office in kurta pyjamas and slippers. “Kurta pyjamas are fine, but I myself felt a bit odd to be in slippers,” Yadav told the Post.
The Deuba Cabinet, nonetheless, looks more inclusive—with 11 ministers including one deputy prime minister from the Tarai and the Tharu community—than the Cabinets of KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. It, however, has failed to include women in desired numbers.
Voices within the NC of late had gone stronger for 33 percent women representation in the Cabinet. But PM Deuba has managed to accommodate only 11 percent of women in his Cabinet.
Ambika Basnet of the NC, Asha Koirala of the Maoist Centre and Mithila Chaudhary of CPN (Samyukta) are women ministers in the Cabinet. Min Bishowkarma is the only Dalit minister in the Cabinet and Farmullaha Mansoor is the only minister from the Muslim community.
In the previous Cabinet headed by Dahal, three ministers were from the Tharu community, four from Madhes and three from Indigenous/Janajati. The Dahal government had one woman and one Dalit minister.
NEW ENTRANTS IN CABINET
Bhimsen Das Pradhan Defence
Bir Bahadur Balayar Physical Infrastructure and Transport
Yagya Bahadur Thapa Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Min Bishwokarma Commerce
Mohan Basnet Information and Communications
Sanjay Gautam Irrigation
Ram Krishna Yadav Agriculture
Rajan KC Youth and Sports
Ambika Basnet Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation
Mahendra Yadav Drinking Water and Sanitation
CPN (Maoist Centre)
Girirajmani Pokharel Health
Mahendra Bahadur Shahi Energy
Tek Bahadur Basnet General Administration
Shiva Kumar Mandal Minister for Supplies
Santa Kumar Tharu Chaudhary Livestock Development
Asha Khanal Koirala Women, Children and Social Welfare
Nepal Loktantrik Forum
Jitendra Narayan Dev Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
Gopal Dahit Land Reform
Mithila Chaudhary Population and Environment