A day of high drama in Singha DurbarIt was a day of high drama in Singha Durbar on Tuesday involving the CPN (Maoist Centre)’s plan to quit the government, its volte face within a hours and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Cabinet reshuffle, relieving all the Maoist Centre ministers of their responsibilities and assigning them ministries without portfolio.
It was a day of high drama in Singha Durbar on Tuesday involving the CPN (Maoist Centre)’s plan to quit the government, its volte face within a hours and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Cabinet reshuffle, relieving all the Maoist Centre ministers of their responsibilities and assigning them ministries without portfolio.
It all actually started on Monday, according to sources close to PM Deuba. Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is learnt to have informed Deuba on Monday that all his ministers would quit the government by evening. After receiving no words from his key coalition partner, PM Deuba on Tuesday morning invited Dahal at Baluwatar for a meeting where he said he was planning to relieve the Maoist ministers of their responsibilities. A leader close to Deuba said Dahal sought until 2pm. Information kept trickling in that the Maoist Centre was set to quit the government.
Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma called a press meet at 2pm to inform the media about the party’s decision. He kept mediapersons waiting at the ministry for around 45 minutes, and when he arrived, he said at the press conference, which hardly lasted 10 minutes, that “our party has decided not to quit the government as we have received information about plans to postpone the elections”. When asked about the source of the information, Minister Sharma pointed to the Election Commission (EC). The EC,
however, refuted his claim later.A couple of hours later, Sharma, along with other eight Maoist ministers and eight state ministers, was assigned ministries without portfolio, with PM Deuba keeping the Home Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs with him. PM Deuba’s Tuesday move, it seems, was in the making since the Maoist Centre and the CPN-UML forged an electoral alliance.
The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) was chagrined by the Maoist Centre’s announcement of a left electoral alliance with UML despite being the key coalition partner of the Deuba government. Accusing the Maoist Centre of duplicity, a section of NC leaders had been demanding that PM Deuba sack the Maoist ministers.
In a bid to save his government from facing any crisis, PM Deuba on Friday had inducted eight Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) ministers into the government. Just as the Maoist Centre made a U-turn, saying it would not quit the government, PM Deuba assigned RPP leaders, including its Chairman Kamal Thapa, ministries.
Asked about the Maoist Centre’s charge that the government was planning to postpone the elections, Nepali Congress (NC) leader said: “We do not know who is spreading these rumours.”Another NC leader said that nomination date of October 22 for the first phase of polls is a bit unrealistic as it is just a day after the Tihar festival. “It will be difficult for many to file nominations just a day after one of the major festivals. So nomination date is likely to be rescheduled,” he said, hinting at the possibility of poll postponement but stopping short of saying anything explicitly. A senior Maoist leader said the Maoist Centre will take a formal decision on staying or leaving the government after the Supreme Court delivers its judgment on Wednesday on a writ demanding separate ballot papers for the federal and provincial polls.