Cabinet expansion likely today

Rabindra Adhikari

KATHMANDU, July 25: Although Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has decided to expand his cabinet on Tuesday, the dispute over allocating the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to whether Ram Chandra Poudel faction or Deuba himself has not been settled yet.

Despite disputes in factions within NC, PM Deuba is preparing to expand the cabinet including CPN (Maoist Center) and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, according a source from Baluwatar.

Deuba, on Saturday had assured Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ that the cabinet would be expanded after the conclusion of NC’s central executive committee meeting, which concluded on late Monday evening.

Also, the expansion of the government witnessed a prolonged delay as NC could not finalize its ministers.

The ruling parties have decided to allocate 13 ministries to NC and nine for Maoist Center. Likewise, Nepal Loktantrik Forum is likely to get three ministries, while Rastriya Prajatantra Party, if agrees to join the government, will apt to get four ministries including deputy prime minister.

It has been understood that, of the 13 ministries allocated to NC, Deuba has promised four to Poudel faction, and one each to Krishna Sitaula and Khum Bahadur Khadka factions.

Also, FSF which previously turned down Deuba’s request, is asking for Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, according to sources. However, the ruling parties have requested FSF not to push claim over the Tourism ministry.

Meanwhile, Maoist Center has already finalized its name of ministers. According to sources, Maoist Center is sending Girirajmani Pokhrel, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, Shyam Kumar Shrestha, Asha Khanal, Shiva Kumar Mandal and Tek Bahadur Basnet to the cabinet.

Currently, Deuba led government has three ministers from NC, three from Maoist Center and one from Nepal Loktantrik Forum.