August 5, 2021

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Kathmandu witnesses hectic lobbying for Cabinet berths in Deuba govt

Nepal’s politics has been marked by hectic lobbying for Cabinet berths just over a week after Sher Bahadur Deuba’s anointment as the Prime Minister.

This issue was discussed threadbare when Deuba on Wednesday met with former PM Prachanda to chalk out the common minimum programme for the remaining one-and-a-half-year term of the government, ET has learnt. Kathmandu-based sources said Deuba wants representation of all parties in the Cabinet that stood by him. Nepal’s Constitution allows only 25 Cabinet ministers.

Dahal’s personal aide Bishnu Sapkota told local media in Kathmandu that the two veteran leaders agreed to formulate a common programme on behalf of the five-party alliance. He informed that coalition partner Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal will also join the government.

Prachanda and Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal Co-chair Upendra Yadav also met CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. Leaders of the Nepal faction of the UML, the CPN-MC and the JSP-N had voted in favour of Deuba on Sunday.

Discussions on inclusion in the Cabinet are going on with all the parties which supported Nepali Congress, ET has learnt.

The rival faction of the Nepali Congress, led by Ram Chandra Poudel, has demanded at least one deputy prime minister post with the other General Secretary Shashanka Koirala, former vice-president Prakash Man Singh and senior leader Sujata Koirala also vying for the post, sources informed.

But Deuba has made it clear that it is not possible and the Poudel faction will get just two portfolios in the Cabinet. One of the major reasons behind the delay in Cabinet formation is dynamics inside the Nepali Congress, a Nepali Congress leader close to Deuba said on condition of anonymity.

Deuba has also assured one Cabinet portfolio to another camp of the party led by former general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula.

Meanwhile, Deuba and Dahal also agreed to scrap all political appointments made by the previous K P Sharma Oli government, sources from Kathmandu said. The government has already scrapped the Oli government’s recent decision to appoint ambassadors to some countries, it said.

Deuba, who was appointed as the prime minister for a record fifth time on July 12 following the Supreme Court‘s intervention, secured 165 votes in the 275-member House on Sunday. Previously, Deuba served as the prime minister on four occasions; first from 1995 to 1997, then from 2001 to 2002, again from 2004 to 2005, and from 2017 to 2018.

In his first foreign trip after he assumed office in June 2017, Deuba visited India in August 2017 and held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Deuba had earlier paid three visits to India as prime minister, in 1996, 2004 and 2005. Deuba will remain in office for the next one and half years, until a fresh parliamentary election is held.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). On February 23, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

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