The ruling coalition is deciding on a Cabinet reshuffle in a day or two as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is under pressure from his coalition partners CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajbadi Party.
The Unified Socialist has twice decided about changing its ministers in the Deuba Cabinet. The party on June 5 officially decided to recall its four ministers from the Cabinet and replace them with the new faces but it didn’t materialise because Deuba wanted the national budget to be endorsed from Parliament. The ministers are entitled to respond to the concerns raised by the lawmaker related to their respective ministries before the budget is presented for endorsement.
Now as the House of Representatives has endorsed the budget and it has been forwarded to the National Assembly, the two parties want the Cabinet to be reshuffled. “The ruling parties had earlier agreed for the reshuffle after the budget was endorsed,” said Min Bishwokarma, a Nepali Congress leader close to the prime minister. “To my knowledge, senior ruling party leaders will begin talks from Sunday.” Deuba, who was on a visit to Sudurpaschim Province, returned to Kathmandu on Saturday.
An aide to Deuba said it is very likely that a meeting of the coalition partners will be held on Sunday to take decision in Cabinet reshuffling.
The Unified Socalist leaders have been saying there must not be delay in implementing the party’s decision to change the ministers from their party.
The Unified Socialist decided to recommend Jeevan Ram Shrestha as minister for tourism, culture and civil aviation replacing Prem Bahadur Ale; Metmani Chaudhary as minister for urban development replacing Ram Kumari Jhakri; Sher Bahadur Kunwar as minister for labour and employment in place of Krishna Kumar Shrestha; and Bhawani Prasad Khapung as minister for health and population in place of Birodh Khatiwada. Khapung is currently serving as state minister for health. The party had also recommended Hira Chandra KC as minister of state for health and population.
However, Ale and Khatiwada are unwilling to leave their ministries. “Now the budget is also approved and we are looking for the prime minister to reshuffle the ministers at least from our party in a day or two. We had sent the current lot of ministers for just six months,” said Jagannath Khatiwada, a spokesperson of the Unified Socialist.
Party leaders say the newly inducted ministers can answer the queries related to the respective ministries in the National Assembly.
The upper house is scheduled to discuss the budget for three days starting Sunday and the ministers from the respective ministries are expected to answer to the concerns on June 26 and 27. “The respective parties bear every authority to recall and recommend the ministries. I am hopeful that ministers from our party will be changed in a few days. However, this is Nepal, where you can’t predict anything,” said Chaudhary.
Though the Janata Samajbadi Party hasn’t taken any decision regarding changing its ministers, the party leadership is very much in pressure to replace the existing team.
A team led by the party’s Federal Council Chairperson Baburam Bhattarai on Monday asked Deuba not to consider the party chairman Upendra Yadav’s unilateral decision in changing the ministers. However, party leaders are doubtful that the prime minister will also take the consent from Bhattarai faction while reshuffling the Cabinet.
Prashant Singh, an executive committee member of the party, said there is huge pressure in the party to send new ministers in the government and Yadav has been assuring a ministerial position to every aspirant. “Yadav wants to increase his support in the party by offering ministerial positions to the dissidents,” Singh told the Post. “The party’s executive committee is supposed to discuss such matters but he is unwilling to do so.” The two factions led by Bhattarai and Yadav in the party are on the verge of a split.
Singh says it is possible that the existing ministers in the Deuba cabinet would be changed without formal decisions in the party. On the other hand, some leaders in the CPN (Maoist Centre) are also putting pressure on party chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal to remove Finance Minister Janardan Sharma. They are for exchanging the Finance Ministry with Home. Nepali Congress leader Bal Krishna Khand is the current home minister. Sharma, who has courted controversy multiple times and is now facing charges of allowing a third person to temper the tax rate ahead of the budget, is facing a storm from within and outside the party. But as of now, both Deuba and Dahal are not ready to remove Sharma, according to a senior Maoist Centre leader. “Changing Sharma will invite imbalance inside the party as well as in…