KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 8
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba today expanded the Cabinet and the 18 new ministers, including three ministers of state, were sworn in by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in the presence of the PM.
Deuba, who had incurred the wrath of opposition parties and civil society members in the past few weeks for not being able to expand the Cabinet, finally did so after 87 days in office.
Deuba accorded Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand the second rank in his Cabinet, but decided not to have any deputy prime minister.
Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, who was law, justice, and parliamentary affairs minister earlier, will now be communications and information technology minister. He is ranked third in the seniority list.
Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal, who represents CPN-Maoist Centre in the Cabinet, is ranked fourth.
Gajendra Bahadur Hamal, who represents the NC in the Cabinet, is the only minister who is not a member of the House of Representatives or the National Assembly. As per constitutional provisions, the government can appoint somebody who is not a lawmaker a minister but only for six months. Hamal is the former chief of Nepali Congress' Banke chapter.
In the 25-member Cabinet, the Nepali Congress has 10 ministers, including the prime minister and one minister of state, almost double than any other coalition partner. Six ministers, including one minister of state, are from the CPN-Maoist Centre, and five ministers, including one minister of state, are from the CPN (Unified Socialist). Although Metmani Chaudhary and Jeevan Ram Shrestha had strongly backed Madhav Kumar Nepal's efforts to split the CPN-UML and form the CPN (Unified Socialist), they didn't land any ministry. The Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal has sent four ministers to the Cabinet. The fifth partner of the ruling alliance, the Rastriya Janamorcha, has stayed out of the government.
As per the constitutional provisions, there cannot be more than 25 members in the Cabinet.
Deuba, who was appointed the PM on July 23, was able to give full shape to his Cabinet only today, as coalition partners remained divided over the Political Party Act (Second Amendment) Ordinance, with the JSP-N pressing for rescinding the ordinance. The government rescinded the ordinance on September 23. JSP-N leaders feared that the ordinance, which had lowered the threshold for splitting the parties from 40 per cent support both in the central committee and parliamentary party to 20 per cent support either in the central committee or the parliamentary party, could split their party further.
The NC has nine ministers, including the PM. NC lawmaker Umesh Shrestha, who was health and population minister, has been named the minister of state for the office of the prime minister and council of ministers.
A version of this article appears in the print on October 9, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.