Talks on to include FSF-N in Cabinet

Kathmandu, February 23

As the government prepares to expand the Cabinet by Sunday, efforts are on to bring Madhes-based parties, especially the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, on board.

While talks with the FSF-N have advanced with respective task forces meeting regularly, parleys have yet to begin with the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, which has said it will not join the government unless the constitution is amended.

The ruling left alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre has already reached an understanding on sharing of ministerial portfolios, but left leaders said changes could be made to accommodate the FSF-N.

“The Cabinet will be expanded by Sunday. If we reach an agreement by then, it’s okay. We can always shuffle the Cabinet if they agree to join the government later,” said UML Spokesperson Pradeep Gyawali.

The major sticking point has been FSF-N’s precondition of constitution amendment.

According to an FSF-N leader, the party is ready to join the federal government and include the left alliance in the Province 2 government, provided the left alliance agrees to amend the constitution.

UML Spokesperson Gyawali said since the pre-poll agenda of the Madhes-based parties ‘did not get the people’s mandate as expected’, Madhes-based parties should come up with something new.

Gyawali made it clear that they were trying to include Madhes-based parties in the government not to attain numerical advantage in the Parliament, but to put in place a broad-based government, so as to concentrate on the broader goal of nation building. “Madhes-based parties also know very well that constitution amendment is not possible now.”

UML leader Bishnu Rimal, who is also chief adviser to the prime minister, said the government did not want to focus on political agenda, but on the agenda of prosperity.

“If anyone wants to join the mission of ensuring implementation of the constitution, establishing the federal system and making the country prosperous, they are welcome. We have not put forth any precondition, nor do we accept any precondition from others,” he said. “No one is in a position to say that they will join the government only if their demands are met.”

CPN-MC leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said talks were being held on the FSF-N’s pre-condition for constitution amendment.

Meanwhile, RJP-N Spokesperson Keshav Jha said no formal discussions had taken place between the two sides on joining the government. “Our bottom-line is constitution amendment. We won’t join the government without it,” he said. “Even the left alliance does not seem so enthusiastic about the RJP-N joining the government.”