Deuba still struggles to appoint ministersMadhav Nepal and Upendra Yadav demand more ministries than what has been allotted to them.
It’s been almost three months since Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba was elevated to the country’s top executive position but he is still struggling to appoint all ministers.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the four top leaders of the ruling coalition, Nepali Congress leaders claimed that a tentative agreement was made on the allocation of ministries but the leaders of the coalition partners have not yet agreed on them.
“Actually there was no agreement today,” said a leader close to Madhav Nepal, chairman of the CPN (Unified Socialist). “Though Nepali Congress leaders have said an agreement has been reached, we have not agreed on the allocations yet.”
Janata Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav said they reached a tentative agreement on the allocation of ministries and it would be finalised by Wednesday evening so that the ministers could be appointed on Thursday. He said the number of ministries for his party would also be finalised on Wednesday.
Yadav had briefed the meeting of his Parliamentary Party at Singha Durbar that his party will get four to five ministries.
One of the members in the five-party alliance of the coalition partners—Rastriya Janamorcha having only one member in the House of Representatives—has announced its plan not to join the government.
According to leaders, the meeting of the coalition partners decided to allot at least four ministries to Janata Samajbadi Party and CPN (Unified Socialist) each and five ministries to the CPN (Maoist Centre) and six to the Nepali Congress.
Currently, the Deuba government has five ministers—three from Nepali Congress—Balkrishna Khand (Home), Gyanendra Bahadur Karki (Law) and Narayan Khadka (Foreign)—and Maoist Centre has two ministers—Janardan Sharma (Finance) and Pampha Bhusal (Energy)—and the state minister for Health Umesh Shrestha from the Congress.
Prime Minister Deuba has been leading 16 ministries.
The Nepali Congress has claimed eight ministries including the prime minister. Congress is laying claim to ministries such as defence; communications and information technology; women, children and senior citizens; health and population; and youth and sports. The party already controls home, foreign and law ministries. However, the Law Ministry will go to the CPN (Unified Socialist).
The CPN (Maoist Centre) will get water supply; land management, cooperatives and poverty alleviation; and education, science and technology ministries. The party already has finance and energy ministers.
However, some ministries including education are also claimed by the Janata Samajbadi and the CPN (Unified Socialist).
The Janata Samajbadi Party has laid claim to physical infrastructure and transport portfolio besides agriculture and livestock development; forests and environment; and federal affairs and general administration. Party leaders are also claiming the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.
But the prime minister wished to allocate four ministries each to the CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajbadi Party besides one each state minister to them and six ministries to the CPN (Maoist Centre).
As per a tentative agreement, the CPN (Unified Socialist) will get culture, tourism and civil aviation; urban development; labour, employment and social security; and law, justice and parliamentary affairs portfolios.
Prime Minister Deuba and Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are reportedly pressing Madhav Nepal to have a lawyer—probably Govinda Bandi—as the law minister on his party’s quota. Currently Congress leader Gyanendra Bahadur Karki is leading the law ministry.
CPN (Unified Socialist) leaders have not yet agreed and have claimed that they would rather remain outside the government if they were not given at least four ministries excluding the law. If the parties could forge an agreement, Law Minister and government spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki will become the defence minister. But CPN (Unified Socialist) is not happy with the ministries allocated to the party.
“Our chairman [Nepal] will meet Prime Minister Deuba and Maoist Centre chair Dahal to lodge the party’s discontent,” said a leader close to Nepal asking not to be named.
Lawmaker Metmani Chaudhary of CPN (Unified Socialist) said his party would get five ministries—defence, urban development, youths and sports, culture, tourism and civil Aviation, and industry and commerce.
According to leaders close to the prime minister, the government is preparing to end the ongoing ninth session of the House of Representatives and the tenth session of the National Assembly within a day or two and come up with an ordinance related to the administration of oath to ministers.