Deuba tells coalition leaders can’t wait too long for Cabinet expansionThe government is facing criticism for failing to give full shape to his Cabinet even after nearly two months.
During a meeting on Friday morning, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba told the coalition partners that Cabinet expansion must not be delayed any longer. He also urged them to provide the names of ministerial candidates from their parties at the earliest.
“Let’s be quick. Criticisms are pouring in,” Rastriya Janamorcha Vice-chairperson Durga Poudel quoted Prime Minister Deuba as telling the meeting.
Deuba’s urge was obvious, given the criticism he has received for failing to give his Cabinet a complete shape.
He was appointed prime minister on July 13. When he was sworn-in to the prime minister’s office, four ministers—two each from the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre)—were also administered the oath of office. Deuba later appointed a state minister.
Ever since he took office, Deuba has been heading as many as 17 ministries of the total 21. He has been struggling to expand his Cabinet because of the problems in coalition partners.
Chairman of CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal had publicly said he was under extreme pressure as all his lawmakers were demanding ministerial berths.
To ensure a majority for his government, Deuba brought an ordinance a day after adjourning the House to amend the Political Parties Act (2017) that eased party split. Facilitated by the ordinance, two parties—the opposition CPN-UML and the coalition partner Janata Samajbadi Party—saw splits.
The Madhav Nepal-led faction of the UML, which supported Deuba’s appointment as prime minister, formed the CPN (Unified Socialist). Mahantha Thakur’s team split from Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai’s Janata Samajbadi Party to form Loktantrik Samajbadi Party.
“A case related to our party which is sub judice in the Supreme Court is one of the reasons behind the delay in our party joining the government,” said Metmani Chaudhary, a lawmaker of the CPN (Unified Socialist) who aspires to become a minister. “The court can give a verdict affecting our party’s formation.”
The Supreme Court has called both the parties for discussions on Monday.
Nepali Congress General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka said that Prime Minister Deuba and his team were holding extensive discussions with the coalition partners to finalise the Cabinet expansion at the earliest.
“I can’t say the exact date but we will make it[Cabinet expansion] soon,” he said.
Khadka said there is nobody to blame for the delay.
The coalition partners met twice on Friday to finalise the Cabinet expansion.
Another coalition partner, Janata Samajbadi Party, meanwhile, fears a possible party split if they joined the government without changing the existing provisions of the ordinance relating to Political Parties Act that was presented in Parliament on Wednesday.
As most lawmakers close to Thakur have sided with Upendra Yadav’s Janata Samajbadi Party, to become ministers, once the Cabinet is expanded, those deprived of ministerial berths could split the party by invoking the ordinance.
Party insiders say the leaders of Janata Samajbadi Party were demanding the government to repeal the ordinance before presenting it in Parliament. However, another coalition partner, CPN (Unified Socialist), wanted to present the ordinance in Parliament until the writ petition related to the party’s formation is finalised by the Supreme Court.
“The existing ordinance must not remain for long,” said Pradip Yadav, a lawmaker of Janata Samajbadi Party. “Previous provisions of the Political Parties Act must be restored through a replacement bill at the earliest.
Prime Minister Deuba has told the coalition leaders that he will not wait long.
“Nepal [of CPN (Unified Socialist] had demanded until September 8 to give names of ministerial candidates, but he has not given those names yet. The Janata Samajbadi Party is also delaying,” said Prakash Saran Mahat, joint general secretary of Nepali Congress, who is working closely with the prime minister. “The Cabinet will be expanded as soon as the coalition partners come up with the list of ministerial candidates from their parties.”