Deal close, coalition partners gear up for Cabinet expansionPrime minister entrusted to work out portfolio-sharing ahead of possible ministerial appointments today.
After week-long talks, the ruling parties have worked out a division of ministerial portfolios. But they have yet to allot individual ministries to be led by the representatives of each coalition partner.
A meeting of the alliance on Wednesday finalised the numbers of the ministries to be led by the nine parties, according to leaders involved in the negotiations.
According to a Nepali Congress leader, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had proposed at the meeting that he should be entrusted to decide which party would helm which ministries.
Accordingly, the prime minister is said to be doing homework to present a tentative division of ministerial portfolios at Thursday’s meeting.
For instance, the prime minister wants to keep the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with himself until his India visit, a senior CPN (Maoist Centre) leader said. The Congress is likely to lead the foreign ministry but it will not pick its nominee for the job until Dahal ends his India visit, which has yet to be scheduled.
The prime minister is waiting for the date of his India visit. As per the understanding among the parties, the Congress is likely to lead the ministry of foreign affairs, and party president Sher Bahadur Deuba is reportedly considering several candidates for the job.
“We have, in principle, decided which party will get how many Cabinet portfolios,” Rajendra Prasad Shrestha, leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party said, adding, “We will sit again on Thursday to make a final decision on portfolio sharing.”
As per the understanding, the Congress will lead eight ministries, the Maoist Centre five including the prime minister, while the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samajbadi Party will head two ministries each. The Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, the Janamat Party, the Nagarik Unmukti Party, the Aam Janata Party and the Nepal Socialist Party will lead one ministry each, said Shrestha.
“As per the division, each party will nominate their ministerial candidates to the prime minister on Thursday. The Cabinet will be expanded on Thursday evening,” said Shrestha. Although the Rastriya Swatantra Party is also interested in joining the government, the party has not made public its official position on the matter.
The Nepali Congress has called a meeting of its work execution committee on Thursday to finalise its ministerial nominees. Party vice-president Purna Bahadur Khadka is almost certain to lead the party in the government as a deputy prime minister with the defence or energy portfolio, said an office bearer of the party.
As a favourite of Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, party spokesperson Prakash Sharan Mahat is likely to be appointed the finance minister. “Who will lead which ministries has yet to be finalised,” the office bearer said.
The Congress will be leading the ministries of defence, foreign affairs, finance, industry, law and parliamentary affairs, health, land reforms, and energy, leaders informed of the developments said.
The Maoist Centre already has ministers in the Cabinet, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayan Kaji Shrestha is likely to be transferred to the home ministry. In that case, the physical infrastructure ministry could go to the CPN (Unified Socialist)’s share. The party has already decided to send Beduram Bhusal and Prakash Jwala to the Cabinet.