Cabinet reshuffle unlikely before Dashain as Oli has other pressing issuesPrime Minister Oli has other tasks at hand, including making appointments to the constitutional bodies and universities, at the moment.
The much touted Cabinet reshuffle, which is currently being discussed at the top level of the Nepal Communist Party, is unlikely to happen before Dashain or October 26 as the ruling party has two more pressing tasks, according to leaders.
Before making a final move on Cabinet reshuffle, the party has to complete the remaining tasks of unification and make crucial appointments to the constitutional bodies and universities, its members say.
Party Secretary General Bishnu Poudel is tasked with submitting a report within 10 days on how to complete the remaining task of party unification including the formation of various departments, commissions and other committees of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), formed after the merger between CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre). Before the Cabinet reshuffle, Oli wanted to complete the recommendation process for 15 constitutional bodies.
Poudel told the Post that the Secretariat has advised the chairman duo to reshuffle the Cabinet but he failed to say when that will happen. It’s up to the prime minister, he said.
A Secretariat meeting of the party on Tuesday had decided to complete the remaining task of unification by 10 days. This could push the Cabinet reshuffle beyond Dashain, a Standing Committee member said.
At the last two Secretariat meetings, ruling party leaders discussed three different criteria for Cabinet reshuffle. While Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is for replacing all ministers, Oli wants to retain some who have performed their duties well. Another criterion is removing all ministers who have completed two years in office.
Party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the next Secretariat meeting could take place within this week but there was no headway yet about Cabinet reshuffle.
“We have some other issues to discuss and finalise. Then the issue of Cabinet reshuffle will become the agenda,” said Shrestha.
Recently, Oli shared in his inner circle that he would keep some ministers even though they have served more than two years as they extended support to him when he faced trouble in the party.
At least 30 Standing Committee members had sought Oli’s resignation both as prime minister and party chairman as Dahal and another senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal led the campaign against him.
If Oli prevails against Dahal, he probably will give continuity to Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, Energy Minister Barshaman Pun, Agriculture Minister Ghanshyam Bhusal and Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai even by changing their portfolios, a leader close to Oli said.
Dahal wants all ministers removed at once and some deemed necessary for the government reappointed later, said a leader close to Dahal. Oli is apparently not in favour of Dahal’s plan, as a lot of ministers close to him would be removed this way.
Before the Cabinet reshuffle, Oli wants to nominate candidates for various constitutional bodies and universities, one minister told the Post.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, 11 out of 13 constitutional bodies have had vacancies for four to five years now.
A recent Standing Committee meeting also directed Oli to complete the nomination process in constitutional bodies and appoint three ministers in vacant positions, said Keshav Badal, a standing committee member close to Oli. Finance, Information and Communication, and Urban Development ministries have no ministers at the moment.
“I don’t think a Cabinet reshuffle will take place ahead of the major festivals,” said Badal.
A total of 42 posts are vacant in the constitutional bodies. Three commissions—Tharu, Muslim and Madhesi—have only chairpersons as they have been without members for months.
Inclusive, Women and Adivasi commissions haven’t had their chairpersons and office bearers for almost five years now. The commissions envisioned by the constitution are crippled in the lack of personnel and resources.
In universities, the posts of vice-chancellors, rectors and registrars are vacant. Appointing the officials is expected to take another month because reaching a power-sharing deal with the primary opposition Nepali Congress could take time, said a Central Committee member close to Oli.