Thapa makes it to govt, again

  • Three RPP leaders join Dahal who now leads the largest Cabinet ever
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa, Chief Whip Dilanth Giri and central member Parshuram Tamang, who had voted against Dahal on August 3, join the govt ‘to ensure elections and constitution implementation’

Mar 10, 2017-A day after the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) served a seven-day ultimatum to the government warning of withdrawing support, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday inducted Rastriya Prajatantra Party leaders, including RPP chairman, into his government. 

RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa, party’s Chief Whip Dilanth Giri and Central Working Committee member Parshuram Tamang, who all had voted against Dahal during the prime ministerial election on August 3, joined the government on Thursday.

Dahal’s move of inducting RPP leaders into government is seen as part of his attempt to kill two birds with one stone. First, securing the support of the RPP, the fourth largest party in Parliament, puts him in a comfortable position in case his government faces any kind of crisis.

Secondly, the RPP in the government could send a message, at least PM Dahal can claim, across the Morcha leadership that he is trying his best to secure the required numbers to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed in Parliament.

The Morcha, which is frothing at the mouth, has accused Dahal of failing to act on his promise of amending the constitution that he had made when he was elected the prime minister with its support. 

The RPP, which had made its position clear that it would not vote in favour of the constitution amendment, has said it decided to join the government “to ensure elections on time and implementation of the constitution”.

“Election on scheduled time and implementation of the constitution are the basis and our preconditions to be part of the Cabinet,” RPP Chair Thapa tweeted.

In a statement issued by the RPP, it said its three leaders are joining the government at the request of PM Dahal and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba to ensure elections on time and implementation of the constitution.

With the RPP’s chairman already in the Cabinet, PM Dahal now is in talks with the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, which has 14 lawmakers, to convince it to become part of his government. 

PM Dahal’s Press Adviser Govinda Acharya said that the move of inducting RPP leaders into the government is part of an attempt to secure two-thirds majority in Parliament to ensure that passage of the constitution amendment bill.

If the MJF-Loktantrik also decides to vote to amend the constitution, the government will need three more votes to secure 396 votes in the 594-strong Parliament to pass the statute amendment bill. 

According to sources, MJF-Loktantrik Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachhadar has “taken PM Dahal’s call to join the government positively”. 

“Negotiations are on. The MJF-L will be in the government soon,” said Acharya. 

Whether PM Dahal will be able to push the constitution amendment bill through Parliament is yet to be seen, but what he has already “achieved” by inducting more ministers from the RPP is he has outdone his predecessors in terms of leading a jumbo Cabinet. 

The Dahal Cabinet is now bloated with 45 ministers. The erstwhile KP Sharma Oli Cabinet had 40 ministers, who had surpassed his predecessors Baburam Bhattarai (36 ministers) and Sher Bahadur Deuba (37 ministers). 

When it comes to RPP Chair Thapa, he has been pretty consistent regarding being part of the government. Thapa was deputy prime minister in the Oli-led government.

But nonetheless, PM Dahal has failed on his yet another promise he had made after taking oath. He had announced to merge ministries split by Oli and limit the Cabinet size.

What is also interesting is PM Dahal and RPP Chair Thapa are two such leaders who are poles apart when it comes to ideologies—Dahal waged a decade-long war to with an aim to overthrow the centuries-old monarchy; Thapa fought tooth and nail to save the institution and he still pitches for “democracy with some space for monarchy”. 

Politics does make strange bedfellows!

Published: 10-03-2017 07:55

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