Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that he did not expect so much criticism before appointing businessman Umesh Shrestha as minister of state for health, and added that he is ready to discuss more on the issue if necessary.
CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha who attended the meeting of leaders of the ruling coalition at Baluwatar Wednesday morning said Deuba stated that further discussion can be held on that after almost all the participants in the meeting expressed displeasure at appointment of the state minister.
"The first thing is there was no mention of appointing minister of state for health during the discussion with coalition partners the previous day. I protested the appointment pointing that taking decision without discussion is not good for coalition culture and that makes maintaining the environment of trust difficult," Shrestha told Setopati.
"The second is related to the policy question of whether to assign any responsibility when there is conflict of interest. I said that Umesh Shrestha may be good as an individual and may be my friend, but the criticism that has come from the angle that those with conflict of interest should not be appointed is right."
Rastriya Janamorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC also criticized appointment of Umesh Shrestha whose business empire includes private hospitals, according to the party's vice-chair Durga Paudel. "Our chairman protested the appointment of Shrestha as minister of state for health. He said he publicly criticized the appointment in a way there is conflict of interest," she stated.
She added that Deuba pledged to make appointments only after consulting the coalition in the coming days.
Maoist leader Shrestha revealed that Deuba said he will take lesson from the episode after listening to criticism by other attending leaders. "He said lesson should be learnt. I said we should take the lesson but also correct things that need to be corrected," he elaborated.
Deuba then replied that he is in a difficult position after even those inside his party strongly opposed the appointment. "But we have already done this. Now we should take a lesson and can again discuss if anything has to be done on this. I will not do anything without consulting the coalition from now onward," Shrestha quoted Deuba as saying.
Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Chairman Upendra Yadav, Federal Council Chairman of JSP Baburam Bhattarai and Janamorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC were present during the meeting.
Senior Leader Ram Chandra Paudel, General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka and former general secretary Krishna Sitaula were also present representing NC. Narayan Kaji Shrestha of Maoist Center, Ashok Rai from JSP and Vice-Chair of Janamorcha Durga Paudel were also present during the meeting.
Senior Leader of CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal, however, did not attend the meeting despite being invited. Bijay Paudel from the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML attended the meeting.