Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli is set to induct ministers from the Thakur-Mahato faction of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) in his Cabinet.
"We have already agreed in principle to join the government. PM has also long been urging us to join," a leader close to the faction told Setopati. The leader revealed that JSP Chairman Mahatntha Thakur will meet PM Oli later on the day to finalize the issue.
Oli has already agreed to induct eight ministers and two state ministers from the faction. A leader confided that there is no dispute about Senior Leader Rajendra Mahato leading the party in the government but the ministries the faction will get have yet to be decided.
"It has been decided that Sharat Singh Bhandari, Raj Kishor Yadav and Anil Jha will accompany Mahato. Similarly, Uma Shankar Argariya and Bimal Srivastav who quit the Yadav-Bhattarai camp have also been confirmed," the leader added. "The final list of the ministers and the ministries may be finalized in the last hour. PM Oli is also likely to make some changes in the ministers from his party. The ministers will likely be sworn in after all that is decided."
The Thakur-Mahato faction is a little reluctant to immediately join the government now that the dispute about JSP has reached the Election Commission.
The Yadav-Bhattarai faction has already expelled four leaders including Thakur, Mahato, Sarbendra Nath Shukla and Laxman Lal Karna for refusing to submit the explanation sought by the executive committee. The Thakur-Mahato faction has also expelled Chairman Upendra Yadav in retaliation.
Both the factions have staked claim for formal recognition with the Election Commission. The Yadav-Bhattarai faction, that claims it has support of 30 members in the 51-strong executive committee, has sent a letter with signatures of the majority of members to the Election Commission.
PM Oli wants to induct the JSP faction in the Cabinet without waiting for the Election Commission to take a call on official recognition. The faction has demanded Home Ministry but Oli is likely to keep home, finance and defense ministries with CPN-UML.
A source close to Oli confided that the Cabinet will be reshuffled Friday including some new and old faces. The source added that Oli will also induct a few of those who joined UML quitting CPN (Maoist Center).
The Constitution restricts the size of Cabinet to 25 including the PM. It is currently 18-strong after the Supreme Court (SC) revoked appointment of seven ministers who had joined UML quitting Maoist Center saying non-lawmakers cannot be repeatedly appointed ministers.
He will have to remove three of the current ministers to adjust 10 from the JSP faction.