Deuba inducts eight ministers from RPP

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Oct 14, 2017-Hours after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba signed a commitment paper at the Election Commission (EC) saying he would abide by the poll code of conduct, he inducted eight ministers from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) into his government.

PM Deuba’s Cabinet expansion on Friday, just a day ahead of the scheduled dissolution of Parliament, has stoked fears of political uncertainty, with some describing the move as “historic blunder”.

The CPN (Maoist Centre), PM Deuba’s key coalition partner which on October 3 formed a left electoral alliance with the CPN-UML, was quick to condemn the Cabinet expansion, saying it was a “highhanded act” on the part of the prime minister and that it was in violation of poll code of conduct.

Friday’s Cabinet expansion, however, looks like a premeditated move of PM Deuba. A close aide to Deuba said the prime minister is convinced that the Maoist ministers would resign by Sunday. “As a matter of fact, the prime minister made the move after receiving some kind of indication [that the Maoist ministers are quitting] from the Maoist side,” the aide claimed. 

Once the House is dissolved on Saturday, the Deuba government will turn into a caretaker one and all constitutional doors to remove the prime minister will be closed. This may give the prime minister a free hand which in the mean time could give rise to political uncertainty, say some analysts.

The RPP, which had pulled out of the government, decided earlier this week to extend its support to Deuba. 

PM Deuba on Friday appointed RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa as the deputy prime minister. Leaders Jayanta Chand, Dilnath Giri and Bikram Thapa have been given Cabinet berths. Kunti Shahi, Bhaskar Bhadra, Sushil Shrestha and Kanta Bhattarai have been appointed as state ministers. They are yet to be assigned ministerial portfolios.

It is believed that Thapa will take charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs after the Maoist ministers quit the government. The ministry is currently held by Maoist leader Janardan Sharma. Senior Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that PM Deuba’s move of expanding Cabinet violated the election code of conduct. “We will hold a meeting of senior leaders on Saturday to discuss the matter.”

With the latest Cabinet expansion, PM Deuba now leads a 64-member Council of Ministers, the biggest in the country’s history. 

Published: 14-10-2017 07:41

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