Ruling party finally picks its department headsIshwar Pokhrel will lead the party’s School Department, one of the most contested departments.
After months of wrangling, the ruling Nepal Communist Party has finally chosen the leadership for its 32 departments, including the hotly contested School Department, and its affiliated organisations.
A secretariat meeting of the party, which had been postponed three times, on Friday chose Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel to lead the party’s School Department. Pokhrel’s nomination had initially been opposed by the Maoist faction of the party due to his inclination towards the former UML’s political line of ‘people’s multi-party democracy’. He was finally chosen after one of the strongest contenders for the same post, party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha, agreed to lead the Publicity Department instead.
“I have agreed to lead the Publicity Department for the sake of the party,” Shrestha told the Post. As many as eight leaders, including former prime minister Jhala Nath Khanal, leaders Ghanashyam Bhusal, Beduram Bhusal and Ram Karki had been contesting the School Department.
This sudden change in the party’s internal dynamics is the result of Co-chairs Pushpa Kamal Dahal and KP Sharma Oli finally coming together, say party insiders. Multiple leaders the Post spoke to said that Bamdev Gautam had played a mediating role in bringing the two leaders, who’ve been at loggerheads for long, together.
Both co-chairs have subsequently proposed Gautam as vice-chairperson of the party, a post that has been vacant since the merger last year, said Khanal, a senior party leader. The proposal will be endorsed by the upcoming standing committee meeting.
“Things in the party have been developing faster with Oli, Dahal and Gautam on the same page,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity. “This could sideline Madhav Nepal.”
Gautam has also been chosen to lead the party’s Organisation Department, one of the most powerful departments in the party, in addition to the vice-chairmanship.
“If things go according to the co-chairs’ plan, Gautam may contest the upcoming by-election from [the late] Rabindra Adhikari’s [Kaski] constituency,” the party leader told the Post. “Gautam seems to have benefited greatly from the three top leaders’ recent unity.”
Friday’s secretariat meeting also finalised the names of the joint chiefs of the seven provinces. Naresh Kharel and Sherdhan Rai will lead Province 1; Nagendra Chaudhary and Mahendra Paswan, Province 2; Kashinath Adhikary and Hitman Shakya, Province 3; Kiran Gurung and Yashoda Subedi Gurung, Gandaki Province; Kul Prasad KC and Baijanath Chaudhary, Province 5; Kali Bahadur Malla and Prakash Jwala, Karnali Province; and Khagaraj Bhatta and Bhanubhakta Jaisi, Sudurpaschim Province.
Among senior party leaders, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa will lead the State Affairs and Good Governance Department; Subash Nembang the Federal Parliamentary Department with Dev Gurung as deputy; Minister Pradeep Gyawali the Election Department; Ghanashyam Bhusal the Provincial Affairs Department; and Ganesh Shah the Science and Technology Department.
The party has also chosen the party’s ministers to lead their respective departments. Accordingly, Water Supply Minister Bina Magar will lead the Water Supplies and Sanitation Department, Energy and Water Resources Minister Barshaman Pun will lead the Hydropower, Irrigation and Energy Department; while Environment Minister Shakti Basnet will lead the Forest and Environment Department.
Chakrapani Khanal will lead the Agriculture and Land Reforms Department; Matrika Yadav, Consumers Rights and Supplies; Yogesh Bhattarai, Tourism Promotion and Civil Aviation; Raghubir Mahaseth, Physical Planning and Transport Management; Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, Education and Human Resource; Gokarna Bista, Labour and Employment; while Lalbabu Pandit will lead the General Administration Department.