By Our Reporter
Almost three weeks after the formation of the coalition government of the Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress under Pushpa Kamal Dahal, NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba sent 13 cabinet ministers on last Friday.
The Nepali Congress had to hold marathon meetings to satisfy the demands of different factions in the party as every faction sought their share in the cabinet. The dispute in the NC over fixing the number of ministries for each faction deepened to the level that Prime Minister Dahal had to allocate two additional ministries to NC at its president Sher Bahadur Deuba’s request.
Finally, NC got 15 ministers against 13 agreed earlier. Now Ram Chandra Poudel had five ministers, Deuba eight and Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Khum Bahadur Khadka one each.
Wrangling between Poudel and Deuba delayed the cabinet expansion. Earlier, NC had told PM Dahal that the party would send the ministers only after the general convention of Nepal Students’ Union concludes. But the convention itself protracted for over fortnight because of the quarrels among the factions in the mother party.
Even after the conclusion of the NSU convention, the NC leaders were divided over the selection of the ministers from the parties. The Poudel camp threatened to not send any minister if they were not given respectful position in the government. Poudel, Krishna Sitaula and Khum Bahadur also bargained for the ministerial berths for their men. Finally, Deuba agreed to give the quota of five ministers to Poudel and one each to Sitaula and Khadka and made the expansion of the cabinet possible.
However, Shekhar Koirala was denied the portfolio of Foreign Ministry and he rejected to be part of the Dahal-led cabinet. It was reported that DPM Bimalendra Nidhi and Arju Deuba convinced Deuba not to induct Koirala in the cabinet.
The NC will also add state ministers but it is yet to finalise the names of state ministers. Perhaps, NC will send its state ministers only after party chief returns home from Singapore.
While appointing ministers, NC neglected the provision of inclusiveness as 14 of the 15 ministers are males. It lacks regional balance while only one minister was appointed from among Janajatis. Comparatively, Poudel’s team is more conclusive than Deuba’s.
Likewise, Nuwakot and Kathamndu got two ministers, while no minister was appointed from Narayani, Gandaki and Dhawalagiri zones.
The ministers appointed by NC included Balkrishna Khand (Minister for Defense), Prakash Saran Mahat (Foreign Affairs), Arjun Narsingh KC (Urban Development), Jeevan Bahadur Shahi (Tourism), Suryaman Gurung (Labor) and Keshav Kumar Budhathoki (General Administration) from Deuba’s camp. Likewise, Sita Devi Yadav (Peace and Reconstruction), Nabindra Raj Joshi (Industry), Deepak Giri (Irrigation), Hridayaram Thani (Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation), and Romi Gauchan (Commerce) have been picked from Paudel’s faction and Gagan Thapa (Health) from the Sitaula faction. Shankar Bhandari (Forest) represented Khadka camp.
Gagan Thapa and Navindra Raj Joshi are expected to perform better.
Of the 15 NC ministers six are new faces.
Keshav Kumar Budathoki from Jhapa had served as assistant minister during Panchayat period, Arjun Nara Singh KC had served both before and after the political change of 1990.
Bimalendra Nidhi, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Surya Man Gurung, Bal Krishna Khand, Ramesh Lekhak had also served as ministers in the past.
NC’s ministers look more experienced than the Maoist Centre’s ministers. Only Mahara and Janardhan Sharma had experices of running portfolio.