Cabinet expansion is likely to be delayed further despite the ruling coalition meeting repeatedly to discuss the issue.
Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba urged coalition partners to give list of ministers during the meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday saying there should be no further delay. CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal also concurred pointing at the widespread criticism of lack of Cabinet expansion.
But Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Chairman Upendra Yadav repeated his stance that the ordinance making splitting of parties easier should first be nullified. Chairman of CPN (Unified Socialist) Madhav Kumar Nepal also repeated his stance urging that the Cabinet should be expanded only after the Supreme Court (SC) issues verdict in the case filed by CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli against registration of the new party.
Nepali Congress (NC) General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka told Setopati that the meetings discussed expanding Cabinet as soon as possible, conducting House session and different bills tabled in the House.
The parties also discussed sharing of ministries. NC is set to get seven ministries, Maoist Center six, Unified Socialist five and JSP four while the coalition is also preparing to appoint three state ministers. But they have yet to agree on the name of ministries that each party will get.
The coalition is again set to meet on Thursday.
Deuba, who was appointed PM on July 13, has not been able to complete the Cabinet in more than two months and has inducted just three ministers from Nepali Congress (NC) and two from Maoist Center and a state minister from NC with Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka from NC appointed only on Thursday.
He was expected to expand it after September 7, the deadline the Election Commission gave to CPN-UML provincial lawmakers and local representatives to join CPN (Unified Socialist). But he has not been able to expand it after coalition partners CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) took different stances on what to do about the ordinance.
Unified Socialist and JSP are not in favor of Cabinet expansion anytime soon despite Deuba repeatedly urging the coalition partners to give him list of the ministers from the respective parties.
The government has registered a bill in the House to replace the ordinance. The ordinance allows split of a party with support of just 20 percent in either the central committee or parliamentary party. The act about political parties required support of 40 percent in both the parliamentary party and the central committee to split any political party.
Chairman of Unified Socialist Madhav Kumar Nepal wants the bill to be passed as it is without any amendment in the ordinance fearing any amendment can cause problem for his newly registered party. He is adamant that the bill should not be amended at least until the SC issues verdict on the case about split in UML.
JSP Chairman Upendra Yadav, on the other hand, insists that the bill should either be revoked or amended before Cabinet expansion pointing that there is danger of another split in the party if some leaders are not made ministers. The ministries JSP is expected to get will not be enough to placate all the aspirants as most of the 18 House of Representatives (HoR) members who verified in support of Yadav at the Election Commission wants to become minister.
Yadav, therefore, wants Cabinet expansion to be deferred until the replacement bill is amended or revoked.
The delay by the SC in hearing of petition filed by CPN-UML demanding implementation of expulsion of 14 HoR members by the party has further compounded matters.