Dahal pushes for Cabinet reshuffle

Kathmandu, June 27

Co-chair of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been pushing for Cabinet reshuffle as he had once told party members close to him that those who have become ministers through his recommendation would be recalled after a year, allowing others an opportunity, according NCP members close to Dahal.

In the past 15 days, Dahal has made at least two public statements about imminent Cabinet reshuffle.

“He made those statements because those who became ministers under the quota given to him were told they would be recalled within a year so that others could replace them,” said an NCP leader close to Dahal, on the condition of anonymity. Two other NCP leaders confirmed this. “This was a verbal agreement,” another NCP leader said.

Eight NCP members have joined KP Sharma Oli-led government based on Dahal’s recommendation. They are: Ram Bahadur Thapa, Barshaman Pun, Shakti Basket, Matrika Yadav, Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Charka Pani Khanal, Bina Magar and Ram Kumari Chaudhary. Dahal wants to recall these ministers, as those awaiting their turn to join the Cabinet are

exerting pressure on him, sources said.

Dahal has been saying that the Cabinet would be reshuffled as soon as the Federal Parliament endorses the budget for the next fiscal year. Although another party co-chair, PM Oli, has not openly spoken about Cabinet reshuffle, those close to him say he is unhappy with the performance of some of the ministers. “Weakness of those ministers is tarnishing the image of the government,” said a minister and close aide of PM Oli.  This means PM Oli may replace all the ministers with new ones or remove those who have not met his expectations.

“So, Cabinet reshuffle is on the cards,” the minister said, adding, “Reshuffle is necessary as it has been a year since the Oli-led government came to power.”

But there are hurdles for Dahal to make good his promise. For example, Dahal has been planning to recall Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa as per the pledge he made to party members of rotating ministers within a year. “But Thapa has now become a close aide of PM Oli and the premier does not want to remove him from the Cabinet,” an NCP leader said. “However, leaders are exerting pressure on Dahal to recall all the ministers he had sent to the Cabinet.”

“Yes, the equation has changed in the party, as you can no longer divide leaders into camps of erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre as in the past, when the two parties had just merged to form the NCP,” the minister close to Oli said.

Government’s Spokesperson and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota did not comment on the issue during today’s weekly press conference. “The PM has the authority to reshuffle the Cabinet. I cannot say anything about it,” he said.