Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Tuesday expanded his Cabinet by swearing in 18 new ministers, two of them deputy Prime Ministers.
Bam Dev Gautam of the CPN-UML and the NC’s Prakash Man Singh are the two deputy PMs. While Mr. Gautam heads the powerful Home Ministry, Mr. Singh takes charge of the Ministry of Local Development. The Cabinet expansion was delayed for two weeks due to the two parties’ claim over the Home Ministry. The UML had refused to join the government without the portfolio.
After taking oath, the new ministers told mediapersons that they would facilitate the promulgation of the new Constitution within a year, a pledge that the two parties have made repeatedly. Dy. PM Gautam also said that the government would hold election for the local bodies – village and district councils and municipalities in six months.
Exactly two weeks after taking oath of office, Mr. Koirala administered the same to his new Cabinet colleagues – eight from his party, the Nepali Congress and the rest from his coalition partners, the CPN-UML – in the presence of President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav. There’s one Minister of State from the NC. With this induction, the Cabinet now has 21 ministers, including the deputy Prime Ministers. NC’s Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat had taken oath of office on February 11 along with Mr. Koirala. He is the Finance Minister, a portfolio he had held previously. Among the important portfolios, NC has kept Defence, Finance and Information and Communications while the UML has Foreign besides Home.
There are 11 news faces in the Cabinet – eight from the UML and three from the NC, including former deputy Speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav. Six of the UML ministers are not parliamentarians.