Coalition partners fail to agree on Cabinet expansionWhile CPN (Unified Socialist) wants Deuba to wait until Monday, Janata Samajbadi says it won’t join the government unless the party split provisions are changed.
Nepal’s ruling coalition is in a fix.
While the main opposition CPN-UML has been obstructing the proceedings at the House of Representatives, coalition partners are struggling to forge a deal on Cabinet expansion as well as the ratification of the Millenium Challenge Corporation.
On Sunday, top leaders of the ruling coalition held a meeting at Baluwatar to discuss the contemporary issues, including the Cabinet expansion, only to fail to find a common ground.
“Today’s meeting was just the continuation of the ongoing meetings of the coalition partners, Cabinet expansion was also one of the agenda,” said Durga Poudel, vice-chair of the Rastriya Janamorcha. “The parties are yet to forge an agreement on it.”
It has been two months since Deuba was appointed prime minister as per a court order, which ousted UML chair KP Sharma Oli from Singha Durbar.
Sources said the Cabinet expansion is getting delayed largely due to the CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajbadi Party. The CPN (Unified Socialist), led by Madhav Kumar Nepal, was formed after the split from the UML, and it has asked Deuba to wait until Monday.
The UML has filed a case against the Election Commission and Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court has called both the petitioner and the defendants for discussions on Monday.
The Janata Samajbadi Party, however, fears a split as there are too many aspirants in the party for the ministerial berths, and those are not sent as ministers could form a new party, as a split has been made easy by the ordinance to amend the Political Parties Act.
“Today’s meeting also discussed ways to deal with the ongoing obstructions of the federal parliament by the opposition,” said a Nepali Congress leader close to Deuba.
The Deuba government on Friday presented the replacement bill for the budget ordinance amid UML lawmakers’ protest.
The replacement bill must be endorsed by Thursday, a failure to do so would mean it would be null and void.
“The Speaker is making attempts to find a way to make the House function so as to endorse the replacement bill,” said the Congress leader.
Finance Minister Janardan Sharma on Friday presented a budget of Rs1.63 trillion in the lower house, reducing the size of the budget slightly compared with the one presented by former finance minister Bishnu Poudel on May 29 through an ordinance. The UML has objected to the revised budget.
“To ensure the endorsement of the replacement bill on budget ordinance the Speaker will try to hold dialogue with the opposition.”
Since the ordinance to amend the Political Parties Act also has been presented in Parliament, the Janata Samajbadi Party is in no mood to join the government anytime soon. The Janata Samajbadi had been saying that it would participate in the government only after the ordinance was repealed.
“We won’t join the government unless the new provisions of the Political Parties Act are in place,” said Rajendra Shrestha, a Janata Samajbadi lawmaker.
The ordinance has eased the provisions for party splits. As per the amended provisions, any group with 20 percent of lawmakers or Central Committee members can apply for a new party at the Election Commission. Before the amendment, those wanting to split from the mother party and register a new party needed to have 40 percent of lawmakers and Central Committee members.
The Janata Samajbadi currently has 23 members in its Parliamentary Party.
If differences surface, five members can easily split the party, and the Janata Samajbadi leadership is fearful about that.
The Deuba government is backed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janamorcha.