Kathmandu, July 31
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli expects to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ with the appointment of Yogesh Bhattarai as the minister of tourism, culture and civil aviation, say party insiders.
The first is the internal dynamics of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Bhattarai represents the NCP faction led by Madhav Kumar Nepal with whom Oli’s relations have been bitter lately over the formation of party’s lower-level committees.
“Bhattarai’s appointment as minister is Oli’s reconciliatory gesture towards Nepal faction,” said an NCP leader who did not want to be named.
The appointment also sends a message to NCP Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal who recently brought up the issue of an agreement between him and Oli whereby the two would become prime minister in turns, said another NCP leader.
“This gives an impression that leaders of erstwhile UML are one when it comes to appointment of chiefs in crucial party departments, including the School Department that has lately become controversial,” the leader said. “The appointment also gains significance as it comes when Dahal is on a foreign trip.”
Secondly, the appointment serves to improve public perception of the government that is increasingly being criticised for poor service delivery.
The first NCP leader said even the face value of a popular leader like Bhattarai would definitely make some difference at a time when most of the ministers were being criticised.
“Moreover, the portfolio Bhattarai is assuming is a challenging one, given the controversies related to wide-body aircraft and recent IIFA Awards fiasco,” the leader said. “Appointing a popular leader to the challenging post is an ideal move.”
A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.