Nepal’s PM Koirala expands cabinet

Newly appointed ministers taking oath from Prime Minister Sushil Koirala in the presence of President Dr Ram Baran Yadav in Kathmandu, Feb 25, 2014.

Sixteen days after he was elected to the top executive post, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala Tuesday expanded his cabinet by inducting two deputy prime ministers, 16 ministers and one state minister.

Row between the two large parties–Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML)– of the hung Constituent Assembly over the Home portfolio delayed the expansion of the cabinet.

Koirala, also the president of the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the 601-member CA, was elected sixth prime minister of Republic Nepal on 10 February in the support of UML. But the two parties were in loggerhead after both staked claim for the powerful Home Ministry.

The CPN-UML wanted that its powerful vice chair Bam Dev Gautam should lead the Home Ministry while Koirala wanted to appoint NC general secretary Prakashman Singh as his deputy and Home Minister.

Koirala was compelled to give up his stance after he failed to receive cooperation from the rival faction within the party to expand the cabinet.

In the expanded cabinet, Gautam was given the second position–Deputy Prime Minister and Homer Minister while Singh the third position as Deputy Prime Minister including the portfolio of Federal Affairs and Local Development.

Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat who was administered the oath of minister without portfolio on February 11 was given the portfolio of Finance Ministry.

In the 21-member cabinet, the two parties have taken 10 ministries each.

Prime Minister Koirala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed Deputy Prime Ministers and ministers amidst a special ceremony held at Sheetal Niwas in the presence of President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday.

However, six of the ministers appointed from the CPN-UML are not in the CA. Again the party appointed new faces while nine ministers appointed by NC had also served the ministries in the past.

The inclusion of the low-profile ministers by the UML is taken as a ploy of the party to pull down the government within a short time.

Prime Minister Koirala has retained Ministries of Defense, Women, Children and Social Welfare, Commerce and Supply, Science, Technology and Environment, Peace and Reconstruction and Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation with him.

These portfolios are set to be allocated for smaller parties, which are also preparing to join the government.

It is the first NC-led government formed after the political change of 2006.

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