Dispute over giving home ministry to Swatantra PartyCPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party are for allowing Rabi Lamichhane’s party to head the ministry while leaders of prime minister’s party seem strongly against it.
After the annulment of Rastriya Swatantra Party president Rabi Lamichhane’s status as home minister, a question has surfaced in the ruling coalition of whether the party should now get the ministerial berth. Coalition partners are divided.
The RSP leaders say the Ministry of Home Affairs is theirs, and there is no need for the party to reclaim the portfolio.
Party joint general secretary Kabindra Burlakoti said party leaders firmly believe that the home ministry was allocated to the Rastriya Swatantra Party and it will lead the ministry again. “We will discuss the issue with coalition partners tomorrow [Monday],” he said.
“The question is not whether the RSP will get the home minister for it is already in our quota. It is rather who will be given the responsibility of leading the ministry,” said party spokesperson Mukul Dhakal after the central committee meeting on Sunday.
The Supreme Court on Friday stripped Rabi Lamichhane of his lawmaker position, saying that the citizenship certificate he produced to contest the parliamentary election was invalid. The cancellation of his citizenship certificate also cost him the positions of home minister and party president. But on Sunday, Lamichhane reacquired the citizenship from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu and his party subsequently reinstated him party president.
Some coalition partners see Lamichhane as the only potential home minister candidate from the RSP. But party leaders say it’s up to decide who among them will get the home ministry.
CPN-UML, a major coalition partner, seems positive on giving the Home Ministry to the Rastriya Swatantra Party and on having Lamichhane back in the Cabinet.
UML vice-chair Subas Nembang said, “The ministry was allocated to the Rastriya Swatantra Party with consensus among ruling partners. Everyone had agreed. There has been on change in that situation.”
UML chair KP Sharma Oli called on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Sunday to discuss the matter.
Manahari Timilsina, media expert to prime minister Dahal, agreed that the home ministry issue was discussed in the meeting of the two leaders. “But no decision has been made.”
Rastriya Prajatantra Party, a partner in the ruling coalition, says Lamichhane is now again eligible to be a minister and the issue will be settled between the prime minister, the Rastriya Swatantra Party and Rabi Lamichhane.
RPP spokesperson Mohan Shrestha said as Lamichhane has already obtained Nepali citizenship, he is eligible to become home minister as per the law. “If the party proposes him as the home minister, he will have to use his discretion to decide on the offer. And it is the prime minister’s call which party to incorporate in the Cabinet,” he said.
There are voices in the Maoist Centre that the party should rethink the earlier decision of giving the home portfolio to the Rastriya Swatantra Party and, by extension, Rabi Lamichhane.
A member of the prime minister's Secretariat said Dahal is in the mood to wait and watch after the recent court decision. “It seems Oli is trying to tighten his grip on the ruling coalition with the backing of the Rastriya Swatantra Party and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party. Chairman Dahal and other Maoist Centre leaders want to change this state of affairs,” the Secretariat member said.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has kept the home ministry with himself after the Supreme Court verdict on Friday.
The verdict has also opened the door for Lamichhane’s criminal investigation. A section of leaders in the ruling Maoist party urged the prime minister and party president to rethink reinstating Lamichhane as home minister, with a grave complaint against him lodged in the same ministry, creating a troubling conflict of interest.
“Unlike the UML party, the Maoist Centre is against bringing back Lamichhane as home minister, there is now a risk of his conviction on a criminal case,” said a Politburo member of the Maoist Centre.