Govt likely to have 18 ministries

Kathmandu, February 20

The new government is likely to have 18 ministries, three more than the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government.

As per discussion between Prime Minister and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the government may include Madhes-based parties to make the government inclusive and have two-thirds majority in the Parliament.

According to Article 76 (9) of the constitution, the number of ministers cannot exceed 25 in the federal Cabinet.

According to a left alliance leader, Oli and Dahal are likely to have 18 ministries in accordance with the draft report of the High Level Federal Administrative Restructuring Committee led by former minister for general administration Tek Bahadur Basnet. The report had proposed 18 ministries in the federal government, but the number was later lowered to 15 as per the directives of the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament. The Deuba-led government then decided to have no more than 15 ministries.

According to sources, the UML is likely to keep 11 of the 18 ministries, giving seven to the CPN-MC.

Since the two top left leaders are also trying to bring on board the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal with a view to having two-thirds majority in the Parliament, they may spare some ministries for the party from their quota. Oli and Dahal had met FSF-N Chairman Upendra Yadav last night at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar. Dahal’s Personal Secretary Jokha Bahadur Mahara said Yadav had expressed readiness to join the Oli-led government.

UML Secretary Pradip Gyawali said the Cabinet was likely to be expanded tomorrow. “We have requested the FSF-N to join the government, but nothing has been decided yet,” Gyawali told THT, adding that they had also talked to another Madhes-based party, the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, in this regard, but its leaders were yet to make up their mind whether or not to join the government.

Dahal and senior CPN-MC leaders Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Ram Bahadur Thapa have been given the responsibility of selecting ministers from their party, while the PM is holding consultation with top leaders of his party to decide who to include in the Cabinet.  Thapa may lead the CPN-MC in the government as deputy prime minister, while UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel and Secretary Gyawali are likely to be ministers from the UML.