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Deuba fails to expand cabinet

By Our Reporter

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has earned a bad name for his inability to appoint office bearers in the party even 16 months after he was elected president of the Nepali Congress, has exhibited similar inability in expanding his cabinet.

It has already been a month since he was appointed to the top executive post, Prime Minister Deuba has failed to give a complete shape to his cabinet.

According to the media reports, Deuba was unable to expand the cabinet due to a feud within his party. The Ramchandra Poudel faction is demanding at least 40 per cent of the ministers should be from their group. However, Deuba wants to give only three ministers to Poudel camp and one each for the groups led by Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Khum Bahadur Khadka.

Although the Maoist-Centre was said to have finalised the names of the ministers representing the party, the cabinet expansion was delayed as Deuba was unable to decide the names of ministers from his party.

PM Deuba and Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have given the responsibility of fixing the names of ministers from the parties to Bimalendra Nidhi and Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Now Mahara is in New Delhi. Likewise, the US trip of NC general secretary Dr Sashank Koilrala is also cited as a reason for the delay as PM Deuba wants to consult Koirala before expanding the cabinet.

The NC and Maoist-Centre are also divided about inducting the RPP in the cabinet.  They want to induct the RPP in the cabinet only if the party is ready to support the constitution amendment bill, which the ruling parties want to endorse without receiving the UML’s support.

Earlier, the PM had claimed the Cabinet would be expanded immediately after the second round of local polls. However, the PM has not yet begun consultations within and outside the party.

PM Deuba is facing difficulties to pick ministers from within his party due to reservations from the rival factions led by Poudel.

As per the power sharing deal with the ruling alliance, the NC had agreed to keep 10 ministries, excluding the PM.

Thus NC has just seven seats left to divide among the rival factions. While Deuba is said to have offered three ministerial posts to the Poudel faction, the latter is reluctant to accept anything less than four.

Besides, the PM is also under pressure from other parties of the ruling alliance. PM Deuba and Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal held talks on the Cabinet expansion on Friday.

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