Ruling coalition partners discuss Cabinet expansion but no headway yetIt has been more than six weeks Deuba was appointed prime minister, but he has not been able to give the government full shape.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s struggle to expand his Cabinet has continued, even as he is close to hitting 50 days since he assumed office.
On Sunday, Deuba held talks with his coalition partners Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairs of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist), respectively. But there was no headway.
“The three leaders held discussions on Cabinet expansion but they are yet to take a final decision,” said Bishnu Sapkota, press advisor to Dahal. “Things will be clear once they sit again on Monday. Most probably everything on Cabinet expansion will be decided by tomorrow.”
While Deuba has to satisfy Dahal and Nepal, he has yet another coalition partner, Janata Samajbadi Party, that is also looking for some ministerial berths. There are aspirants for ministerial posts from his own party, the Nepali Congress, as well, which itself is a divided house.
The parties have not been able to decide the distribution of ministries among them.
Until last week, Deuba and Dahal were waiting for Madhav Nepal to register a new party for Cabinet expansion. The Madhav Nepal faction of the CPN-UML had played a crucial role in installing Deuba as prime minister in place of their own party chair KP Sharma Oli.
Riding on an ordinance introduced by the Deuba government to ease party splits, Madhav Nepal’s CPN (Unified Socialist) was registered with the Election Commission. The party has 23 lawmakers in the lower house.
According to Nepali Congress General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka, who is closely working with Deuba, the coalition partners have started discussions on various issues, including the Cabinet expansion, as well on the ordinance.
The ordinance issued by the Deuba government, amending provisions for party split, has received widespread criticism. The ordinance was issued a day after the government prorogued the House.
“A meeting of the coalition partners, including the Janata Samajbadi Party, has been scheduled for tomorrow. Decisions on Cabinet expansion and whether to repeal the ordinance are likely during the meeting,” said Khadka. “It, however, may take a few days before the Cabinet is expanded. But the decks for the same have been cleared now.”
Deuba had held a meeting with Maoist Centre chair Dahal on Saturday as well to discuss the Cabinet expansion issue.
The ordinance brought by Deuba had also led to the split in the Janata Samajbadi Party. Mahantha Thakur, the erstwhile chair of Janata Samajbadi, has registered his own party–Loktantrik Samajbadi Party.
It has not yet decided whether it would join the Deuba government. The Thakur group also had supported Deuba when the prime minister went for a floor test on July 18.
For the last more than six weeks, Deuba has been running governance with five ministers, including himself, and a state minister.
Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Bal Krishna Khand, Janardan Sharma and Pampha Bhusal were appointed ministers for law, home, finance and energy, respectively, on July 13, the day Deuba was appointed prime minister.
On July 25, Deuba appointed Umesh Shrestha as minister of state for health.
Deuba himself is leading 17 ministries.