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Prime Minister Deuba Also Heads 22 Ministries, For Now

On June 6, Sher Bahadur Deuba made headlines for being Nepal’s 25th Prime Minister in 27 years, and for being the Prime Minister for the fourth time. Despite his extensive experience in Office, he has been criticised for the sluggish setting up of his Cabinet. When a Minister is not appointed, the Prime Minister assumes that portfolio by default. This means Prime Minister Deuba has been holding a gigantic portfolio of 22 Ministries, while serving as the Prime Minister, for more than a month.

On Monday, Prateek Pradhan, Editor of Baahrakhari.com, who was the Press Advisor to the then Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, tweeted:

‘If Prime Minister Deuba can recite the names of all the Ministries he is overseeing without reading it anywhere then he would be considered a capable Prime Minister’

To this, Rajendra Dahal, Editor of Shishak monthly, who was an advisor to the former President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, responded:

‘My advice to the Prime Minister would be – “Prime Minister should simply not participate in these kinds of tests!’

The Deuba government finally appears ready to appoint Ministers, this week. Until that happens, here are the Ministries the Prime Minister will continue to head:

  1. Agricultural Development
  2. Commerce and Supplies
  3. Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation
  4. Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
  5. Defence
  6. Energy
  7. Forest and Soil Conservation
  8. General Administration
  9. Health
  10. Information and Communication
  11. Industry
  12. Irrigation
  13. Land Reform and Management
  14. Livestock Development
  15. Peace and Reconstruction
  16. Population and Environment
  17. Physical Infrastructure and Transportation
  18. Science and Technology
  19. Supplies
  20. Water Supply and Sanitation
  21. Women, Children and Social Welfare Development
  22. Youth and Sports

Why The Delay?

The delay is actually circumstantial. PM Deuba was expected to expand his Cabinet on Wednesday, which could not happen as talks with agitating Madhes-based parties have yielded no results. It has been learnt that Deuba has promised to move the Constitution Amendment proposal forward for endorsement, which requires a two-third parliament majority. However, the government has committed to meeting other demands such as dropping cases against protesters, providing livelihood support to the injured during the Madhes protest, and increasing the number of local units in proportion to population size.

Deuba, who is the Nepali Congress Party President, took the post of Prime Minister right before the second round of local elections. He has been trying to win over the agitating Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N). The effort to bring agitating parties on board is aimed at addressing the concerns of the Madhes-based parties. This is one of the reasons for the delay in the expansion of the Cabinet. The local elections was another reason for the delay.

The portfolio distribution will now depend on negotiations with the Madhes-based parties, say leaders. Since the RJP-N has expressed doubts over the commitment of the government, it may take a few rounds of negotiation and a concrete move by the Deuba-led government to bring the party onboard.

The ruling coalition has divided the portfolios already. As per the agreement, Nepali Congress, which has been leading the government, will keep 13 ministries, CPN (Maoist Centre) will be given nine ministries, and Nepal Democratic Forum, three. Five ministries have been set aside for fringe parties.