Oli to lead drafting of government’s common programmeThe panel he heads will work as a political mechanism to support the government, at least in the UML’s reading.
Three days after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal assumed office, a mechanism to support the government has been formed under the leadership of CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli. The mechanism is expected to support the Dahal-led government.
As its first task, the panel will prepare the government’s common minimum programme within the next five days.
A meeting of the coalition partners on Thursday agreed to finalise the body with Oli as its leader. Leaders said the panel would be given continuity so long as the current government remains in place.
Dhawal Shumsher Rana from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Barshaman Pun from the Maoist Centre, Mukul Dhakal from the Rastriya Swatantra Party, one more UML leader, and leaders from other political parties supporting the government will be the panel’s members.
“Today’s meeting of the ruling coalition decided to make UML chair KP Sharma Oli the convener of the governing panel,” said Rabi Lamichhane, deputy prime minister and home minister. “We also discussed Cabinet expansion.”
He said the Oli-led body will start its work on Friday. But Lamichhane did not elaborate on whether Oli was being made the convener of a political mechanism to support the new government throughout its term, or if the UML chair would just head a panel tasked with preparing the common minimum programme.
UML leaders claimed the body was indeed a long-lasting political mechanism to support the government.
“The Oli-led mechanism will support the government throughout its term. But its first task is to prepare the common minimum programme and ensure its proper implementation,” said Prithvi Subba Gurung, deputy general secretary of the UML. “The mechanism will continue so long as this government does.”
Gurung said the mechanism would work out ways to fund new policies and programmes.
Gurung is expected to join the Dahal government or the one to be led by Oli in the second half of the five-year term. Gurung is also considered a strong contender for the post of Speaker.
In Thursday’s meeting, RPP chair Rajendra Lingden, RSP chief Lamichhane, Prime Minister Dahal and UML chair Oli discussed Cabinet expansion. But they have tentatively agreed to give it a full shape only after the prime minister faces a vote of confidence in the House. As the President has already summoned the first meeting of the House of Representatives on January 9, Prime Minister Dahal will opt for a floor test in the following two to three days.
As per the constitution, the prime minister has to win the confidence of the House within 30 days after his appointment.
“By the time the prime minister wins the confidence vote, parties in the coalition would work out power-sharing, including the provincial chief ministers and other major positions like ministerial portfolios for the partners,” said Dhakal, the RSP spokesperson. “By then, it would be easier for the prime minister and the UML chair to expand the Cabinet.”
However, other members of the coalition are not aware of the panel’s terms. “I don’t know whether the Oli-led panel would exist after drafting the government’s common minimum programme,” said Mukul Dhakal, the RSP spokesperson. “I was informed by our President [Lamichhane] that I had been picked as a member of the panel that will draft the government’s common minimum programme.”
As the seven-party coalition includes parties with diverse ideologies, observers say agreeing on common policies would not be easy.
The RSP, which emerged as the fourth largest party in the House in less than six months of its establishment, for instance, will pitch for implementation of the lofty promises it made during the elections.
The party issued a 34-page manifesto incorporating ambitious agenda like scientific land reform, agricultural revolution, mental health and quality education, among others.
As of Thursday, the RPP has decided to join the government under the leadership of its chairman, Rajendra Lingden. But the Janata Samajbadi is yet to make an official decision, though the party is willing to join if it gets a deputy prime minister, besides three ministers and the chief minister of Madhesh Province.
The CK Raut-led Janamat Party has been claiming the chief ministerial post in Madhesh while lowering its demand for the number of federal ministries. The RSP is also preparing to claim the deputy Speaker position in the House.
Prime Minister Dahal, however, is trying to rope in the Madhav Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) that has 10 seats in the lower house, while the UML leaders are also busy convincing Nepal to return to the mother party.
Nepal is reportedly under pressure to join the UML with many Unified Socialist leaders eager to return to their former party.