The issue of making CPN Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam and Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha ministers is set to create tension in the ruling party immediately after the recent détente between Chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
A party source claims that Gautam has already told Prime Minister (PM) Oli that he wants to help the government as finance minister.
The ministry is vacant following Yuba Raj Khatiwada's resignation after the party decided to replace him with Gautam in the National Assembly instead of reappointing him. PM Oli, who wanted to continue Khatiwada as finance minister, has already appointed him as chief financial advisor.
A party source claimed that Khatiwada has put conditions including not making a few persons including Gautam the finance minister before accepting the advisory position. Gautam has an eye on home, physical infrastructure and a few other ministries if he is not given the finance ministry.
Oli does not want to make Gautam minister while Dahal and senior leaders Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal insist on taking the party vice-chairman to the Cabinet as deputy PM to keep him in their faction. They had even agreed for Constitution amendment paving the way for Gautam to become PM after getting to the National Assembly earlier in the year.
"Bam Dev Gautam will now become DPM and finance minister. Many secretariat members want that," a secretariat member confided. "There is no reason to not make him minister."
Standing committee member Janardan Sharma, who is close to Dahal, has publicly stated that Gautam qualifies to become minister.
Dahal, Khanal and Nepal are also in favor of making Shrestha a minister.
That Oli does not want to make Gautam minister is also clear due to remarks by leaders close to him. Deputy parliamentary party leader and standing committee member Subash Nembang has publicly commented that persons who have lost general election cannot be appointed minister during the term of House of Representatives (HoR) meaning that both Gautam and Shrestha are ineligible for Cabinet appointment.
But constitutional experts have differing opinions on the matter. Some say the Constitution prohibits the two from becoming minister while some opine they can be appointed.
Bipin Adhikari argues that the Constitution does not stop any person from becoming minister after becoming National Assembly member. "There is no meaning of losing the election once one becomes National Assembly member. The Constitution allows the person to become minister," he added. "The issue of waiting until the next election after losing one is more an issue of morality that legal."
The secretariat meeting today discussed about Cabinet reshuffle but did not get into the specifics of names and the deadline for reshuffle.
Speaking after the meeting, Shrestha claimed that he has not even imagined about him and Gautam becoming ministers.
But the pressure to make the two ministers is set to come from inside the secretariat due to the internal power balance despite Shrestha saying so.