Cabinet expansion in limboAs the feud over picking ministers grows within the coalition partners, Prime Minister KP Oli is mulling over phase-wise expansion of the Cabinet.
As the feud over picking ministers grows within the coalition partners, Prime Minister KP Oli is mulling over phase-wise expansion of the Cabinet.
The main ruling partners are failing to send their ministers to the government while smaller parties, which were promised seats during the prime minister election, do not know yet how many positions they will get.
Highly-placed sources said PM Oli will induct ministers from the CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and RPP-Nepal once they decide their nominees. The smaller parties may have to wait until the presidential election for the appointment of their ministers. It will take some time for the Cabinet to take its full shape, said government spokesman Agni Kharel.
UML sources said Cabinet expansion would be over only after electing the President. An informed source in the government said Oli has been delaying Cabinet expansion fearing that the fringe parties in the ruling alliance may vote for the opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential poll.
The UCPN (Maoist) on Saturday decided to appoint a ministerial team led by its Standing Committee member Top Bahadur Rayamajhi as the tourism minister with a deputy prime minister portfolio. Shakti Basnet will take charge of the Home Ministry.
The Maoist party, which is likely to get eight ministerial berths, has already sent Haribol Gajurel as the agriculture minister. The Maoist leadership struggles to choose other ministers as the number of aspirants is high in the party.
The PM’s party, UML, faces the most difficult situation with rival camps vying to appoint their favourites as ministers.
The row over whether to name Bhim Rawal, Bishnu Poudel or Surendra Pandey as the finance minister has put the party in a fix. Oli wants Poudel as the finance minister while General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel does not back the PM’s choice.
While the PM wants to pick Sherdhan Rai, Shreemaya Thakali, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal and Ganesh Man Gurung as ministers, the faction led by Madhav Kumar Nepal, demanding criteria for nomination first, stresses an institutional decision. The UML leaders have been unable even to hold a meeting.
Leaders close to Nepal
are miffed at Oli after he appointed ministers in the first phase without consultation in the party. There is strong objection from a section of UML leaders particularly over Oli’s decision to appoint Agni Kharel as the law minister.
Kharel, who was nominated a Constituent Assembly member contrary to the party policy not to repeat earlier nominees, was made the UML chief whip despite calls to elect one winning the direct election.
Smaller coalition partner CPN-ML has demanded a DPM portfolio in addition to ministerial positions for its leaders.
The delay in ministerial appointments has already hit the works of the ministries. For instance, the Commerce and Supply Ministry has no minister at a time when the country is reeling under multiple supply problems as a result of India’s restrictions on the import of essential goods including fuel.
Rayamajhi likely to lead Maoist team in govt
KATHAMNDU: UCPN (Maoist) is likely to nominate Top Bahadur Rayamajhi as head of the party in the CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli-led coalition government.
Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is set to make such a decision after party General Secretary Krishna Bahadur Mahara informed the party chief that he was not keen to be a part of the government. Rayamajhi will assume the position of deputy prime minister and energy minister and is most likely to lead the party in the government, party spokesperson Dina Nath Sharma said. With many leaders eyeing plum ministries, the Maoist party is struggling to finalise the names to be sent to the government. The party is also under pressure to make the list of nominees inclusive.
Maoist sources said Chairman Dahal had difficulties over picking one candidate between Mahara and Rayamajhi.
On Friday evening, Mahara decided against taking up the ministerial position which might have made easier for Dahal to pick the names of ministers. Dahal will entrust Mahara some vital responsibility of the party, said a source.
Mahara is seen as a successor to party chief Dahal. The departure of senior leader Baburam Bhattarai has left Mahara and Rayamajhi in line for the party chairmanship. Some former party commanders have even advised Dahal to designate Mahara the responsibility of revamping party organisation. Shakti Basnet, a close confident of Dahal, will take up the Home Ministry.
Party has decided to send Agni Sapkota and Giriraj Mani Pokhrel in the government. Maoist leader Haribol Gajurel has already assumed the responsibility of the Agriculture Ministry.