Ruling coalition fails to ensure inclusiveness in CabinetPolitical parties won’t ensure inclusion, unless it’s made mandatory by amending the constitution, says expert.
Tika R Pradhan
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal inducted 15 ministers and state ministers to his Cabinet on Wednesday, but failed to honour the constitutional spirit of inclusiveness.
Now the Dahal-led Council of Ministers has 20 ministers, including the prime minister and three ministers of state, but the coalition partners failed to make it inclusive. As Dahal leads a government involving many parties, he could have asked the coalition partners to make the Cabinet inclusive.
The Cabinet, as the top executive body of the country, should be inclusive and have at least 33 percent women, but among the 20 full ministers, who take part in Cabinet meetings, only four, or 20 percent, are women, and there is no Dalit.
“To ensure proportional representation in all government bodies, we need to amend the constitutional provisions,” said senior advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali, who is also an expert on constitutional law. “Our constitution says all the government bodies should be inclusive, but the political parties never heed the constitutional spirit.”
Dahal has appointed four deputy prime ministers, all male. Even the parties have failed to make the Cabinet inclusive in terms of geographical region.
As a gesture of inclusion, of the two women ministers of state, Sushila Sirpali Thakuri represents the Dalit community. But ministers of state do not have an influential role in decision-making as they don’t attend Cabinet meetings.
There were expectations of some progressive initiatives including inclusive representation from the new Rastriya Swatantra Party led by journalist-turned-politician Rabi Lamichhane, but to no avail.
The 23-member team of Dahal has 13 members from the Khas-Arya group and five from the Aadibasi Janajati group besides two from Tharu and one each from the Muslim and Madheshi communities.
Among the UML ministers, two represent the Khas-Arya community while one each comes from Janajati, Tharu and Madhesi communities. From Prime Minister Dahal’s party, two represent Khas Arya—Dahal and Rekha Sharma—while one is Janajati [Sudan Kirati], another is Tharu [Aman Lal Modi] and Sushila Sirpali as minister of state represents the Dalit community.
The CPN (Maoist Centre) that is leading the government has a more inclusive team, compared to other parties in the coalition.
“We have given the most inclusive list of ministers, but you cannot force other parties in the coalition to make their picks inclusive,” said Hitraj Pande, chief whip of the Maoist Centre. “Though there is no constitutional provision of proportional inclusiveness in the Cabinet, the Dahal-led council is more inclusive, compared to previous ones.”
The government has eight ministers from the UML, five from the Maoist Centre, four each from the RSP and the RPP and one from the Janamat Party. A Janamat leader, Abdul Khan, who is the only Muslim member in the Cabinet, is unhappy after the coalition assigned him the Ministry of Water Supply against his party’s wishes.
Even the RSP, a new party, has sent all its four ministers from the Khas-Arya group. They are Rabi Lamichhane, Sishir Khanal, Dol Prasad Aryal and minister of state for health Toshima Karki. Among its 20 lawmakers, three are from Janajati, two from Madheshi and one each from Tharu and Muslim communities. But the Lamichhane-led party didn’t bother to make its Cabinet team inclusive.
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party has two ministers—Bikram Pande and Dipak Singh—from Khas-Arya group, and Rajendra Lingden and Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan from Janajati communities.