Congress’ Narayan Khadka sworn in as foreign ministerKhadka’s addition as fifth minister in the Cabinet riles the opponent faction in the party as Deuba’s struggle to give the government full shape continues.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday administered the oath of office and secrecy to Narayan Khadka as foreing minister.
Khadka was appointed earlier in the morning by the Sher Bahadur Deuba Cabinet.
A Nepali Congress leader, Khadka, is the fifth minister to be appointed in the Deuba government, which was formed on July 13.
The ruling coalition on Tuesday evening decided to appoint a foreign minister after a delegation led by foreign minister had to be sent to New York to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Khadka, a central member of the Nepali Congress, also heads the party’s Foreign Affairs Department.
After the addition of one more minister, after 72 days, Prime Minister Deuba is not likely to expand his Cabinet anytime soon, as he is constrained by his coalition partners–the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samabjadi Party.
Insiders in the parties say there is no deal yet on which party would get how many ministries. While there are too many aspirants for ministerial posts in the Maoits Centre, the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samjabadi Party have set their own riders.
The Janata Samajbadi has demanded that the government withdraw the ordinance to amend the Political Parties Act-2017 for it to join the government. The party fears a split if some leaders aspiring to become ministers are left out.
The CPN (Unified Socialist), on the other hand, wants Deuba to wait until the court settles the cases filed by CPN-UML chair Oli against Speaker Agni Sapkota and the Election Commission.
The UML has taken umbrage at Speaker Sapkota for not issuing a notice as per the party’s decision to expel 14 lawmakers, including Madhav Nepal, on August 17, who on August 26 formed the CPN (Unified Socialist). The UML has also argued that the Election Commission failed to abide by the law to register the CPN (Unified Socialist).
Deuba has met with a lot of criticism for failing to give the full shape to his government even after 70 days.
After his appointment on July 13, Deuba had appointed Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and Balkrishna Khand of his party as law and home ministers. Maoist Centre’s Janardan Sharma and Pampbha Bhusal were appointed finance and energy ministers the same day.
On July 25, Deuba appointed Umesh Shrestha state minister for health.
Deuba was under pressure to appoint a foreign minister though, as Nepal needed a minister to lead the delegation to the UNGA.
Khadka’s appointment, however, has riled Deuba’s opponent in his own party, the Nepali Congress. The Ram Chandra Poudel faction has called a separate meeting, according to Kantipur, the Post’s sister paper.
“The Cabinet expansion has already been delayed. How can [the government] appoint just one minister now?,” the paper quoted a leader from the Poudel camp. “And there should have been discussions within the party as well [before the appointment].”