Cabinet expansion likely next week

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Senior Congress leaders say PM Deuba is waiting for party General Secretary Shashank Koirala’s arrival from a foreign visit

Jul 1, 2017-The much-anticipated Cabinet expansion has been further delayed after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba failed to balance a power equation both within the Nepali Congress as well as the ruling coalition. 

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. 

Senior Nepali Congress leaders told the Post that PM Deuba is waiting for party’s General Secretary Shashank Koirala to return from the US before inducting more ministers from the Congress.  

“Consultations on Cabinet expansion will begin in earnest once Koirala returns home next week,” said an NC leader.

PM Deuba is facing difficulties to pick ministers from within his party due to reservations from the rival factions led by Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Prasad Situala. As per the power sharing deal with the ruling alliance, the NC had agreed to keep 10 ministries, excluding the PM. Having inducted three ministers to the Cabinet, it 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.

But Poudel brushed off suggestions that there had been any talks between the two leaders. “I do not have any information regarding the Cabinet expansion. The PM has not called me nor have I contacted him. So I don’t know when the expansion 

will take place,” Poudel told the Post. 

Two other rival factions in the NC—led by Situala and Khum Bahadur Khadka—are also learnt to have staked their claims to some ministerial seats, further complicating matters form the PM. 

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, but the meeting ended without a concrete decision. “The PM and Dahal met at Baluwatar where the duo discussed about the Cabinet expansion, running the government and others. The meeting also discussed about the power sharing and works to be conducted by the government,” Dahal’s Secretariat said in a statement. 

“No decision has been taken on any matters,” said an aide to Dahal. The leaders have agreed to do more homework on the Cabinet expansion for strengthening their alliance, said the statement. 

Published: 01-07-2017 07:50

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