A day after agreeing to expand the two-member Cabinet, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML on Monday failed to finalise the names of ministers from their respective parties due to intra-party differences.
Both the parties held meetings throughout the day to settles on names but there were many claimants for each of the 10 portfolios that the first and second largest parties have decided to have for themselves.
This meant delay of the Cabinet expansion by yet another day.
The CPN-UML was in favour of having its vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam take oath as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister on Monday itself after the party’s Standing Committee – its highest decision-making body – decided to send him as their leader in the coalition government.
“Comrade Bam Dev would take oath today [on Monday] if that is arranged,” said UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal told mediapersons after the party’s meeting.
However, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was not keen on inducting just one minister although he has been under pressure to give full shape to his Cabinet.
He told the UML leaders that he was in favour of all the ministers from the two parties taking oath of office together on Tuesday.
While Mr. Koirala was able to placate Sher Bahadur Deuba by offering his camp four of the 10 NC ministers, he is yet to finalise the names of the six Ministers. The Prime Minister, likely to keep Defence for himself, is struggling to ensure representation from various regions, groups and communities.
The CPN-UML which has set criteria for ministers’ selection – two-time parliamentary election winners but who never got a chance to be ministers and newer faces – also could not agree on the names with the party’s senior leader and former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal expressing his dissatisfaction by not attending the party’s Standing Committee meeting.
The Standing Committee has entrusted Mr. Gautam with finalising the names of the UML Ministers. The names have to be approved by Chairman Khanal and Parliamentary Party leader K.P. Oli.
On Sunday, the two parties settled their simmering row over the Ministry of Home Affairs. Prime Minister Koirala agreed to give the powerful portfolio – which controls all the non-military security and civil administration apparatus in the country – to the UML which had refused to join the Koirala Cabinet without the Home portfolio. As a result, Mr. Koirala could not expand his Cabinet.
The NC and the UML have also identified their respective ministries. The NC is going to have Defence, Finance, and Information and Communication – seen as important ministries – while the UML has got Foreign Affairs besides Home.
The two coalition partners have decided to offer the remaining six ministries to smaller parties which might join the government.