Umesh Shrestha appointed state minister for healthPrime Minister Deuba will continue to hold the Health Ministry portfolio.
Two weeks after forming the government, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has appointed Umesh Shrestha, a Nepali Congress lawmaker, state minister for health.
Deuba was facing criticism for not appointing a health minister when the country is battling a pandemic.
The Office of the President in a statement said that President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Sunday appointed Shrestha as state minister for health on the recommendation of the prime minister as per Article 76 (9).
The Health Ministry portfolio will continue to remain with Prime Minister Deuba.
On July 13, Deuba, who took over the government reins from CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli, had appointed four ministers–Gyanendra Karki (law and parliamentary affairs), Bal Krishna Khand (home), Janardan Sharma (finance) and Pampha Bhusal (energy)
Karki and Khand are from Deuba’s Congress party and Sharma and Bhusal represent the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre)
Deuba, who is backed by coalition partners the Maoist Centre and the Janata Samajbadi Party as well as some lawmakers from the CPN-UML, has been struggling to expand his Cabinet even two weeks after assuming office.
Pressure, however, was building on Deuba to appoint the health minister as the country is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and is staring at the third wave.
For Deuba, the struggle to expand his Cabinet stems more from factional tensions within his party rather than the coalition partners.
In his party Nepali Congress, there are three clear factions led by Deuba himself, senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and former party general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula.
Shreshta, the newly appointed state minister for health, is a Member of Parliament under the proportional representation system. He also operates schools and colleges and his presence in a House sub-committee with the authority to oversee the entire education and health sector had come into question in the past.