The much-anticipated Cabinet expansion in Nepal failed to materialise on Wednesday as Prime Minister KP Oli and Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal could not agree on the number of ministries, The Kathmandu Post reports.
According to party leaders Oli and Dahal held one-on-one talks to ascertain the number of ministries but could not make progress on the matter.
UML leaders also met Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal leaders and urged them to join the government. The SSF-N’s participation in the government will give a two-third majority to the Oli government.
Speaking at a function in Kathmandu earlier in the day, PM Oli said that the Cabinet expansion would take place within a couple of days. “At least we are not going to form the Cabinet of 64 members,” he said, referring to the previous Cabinet under Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha conceded there was not much progress on the Cabinet expansion. “We cannot expand the Cabinet until we ascertain the number of ministries and sort out the power sharing issues,” he said. Elections of the President, Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker are among other outstanding issues, according UML and Maoist leaders.
Besides the number of ministries, according to the leaders, both Oli and Dahal are also struggling to pick ministers while ensuring fair balance of gender, caste, seniority, region, among others. “That is another big challenge facing the top leaders which could delay Cabinet expansion,” a leader said.
Dahal briefed his senior party colleagues about the power sharing issues. In the meeting, the Maoist chief said the major power sharing issue with Oli is yet to be fixed and the Cabinet expansion likely to take place in two or three phases.
“Matters related to agreement on President, Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker also need to be fixed in one go,” the leader quoted Dahal. Oli and Dahal are believed to have agreed to increase the number of ministries to more than 15 in order to accommodate the growing number of aspirants. The new constitution has limited the number of ministers between 15 and 25, including the state ministers. “The number of ministries is likely to exceed 15.”
Senior leaders of the UML and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal held talks on Wednesday.
In the meeting, SSF-N leaders urged the UML leaders Pradip Gyawali and Subas Nembang to form a task force to address their bottomline. “We have made our position clear to the UML. We aren’t joining the government until our demands are met,” SSF-N Chairman Upendra Yadav said.