In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Mohammad Ishtiyak Rai has been given the responsibility of Minister for Physical Planning and Infrastructure while Pradip Yadav is the new minister for Forests and Environment. Likewise, Mrigendra Kumar Singh Yadav has become the new minister for agriculture.
The three ministers in the Deuba-led cabinet are members of federal parliament belonging to the JSP which maintains stronghold in the Terai region bordering India.
This was the second cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Deuba barely in the last two weeks. Earlier on June 26, Deuba changed four ministers belonging to the Unified Socialist Party (USP) led by Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister and a former general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist).
As President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at Sheelniwas, the Presidential Palace, on Monday evening, political observers were quick to raise questions over the rationale behind the cabinet reshuffle at time when the country heading towards provincial and parliament elections ahead of December.
Even as leaders of these two ruling parties JSP and USP have claimed that their intention to change the ministers at this point of time was just to balance internal party rifts, political analysts believe that the tendency of grabbing power for corruption could be the prime reason behind the move.
Prateek Pradhan, a political analyst and editor-in-chief of Baahrakhari Media, said that sending new faces by recalling the existing ministers from the parties few months ahead of crucial elections is undesirable.
“In an underdeveloped and poor country like Nepal, leaders of political parties aspire to grab ministerial or even higher positions because they want to make easy money by indulging into corruption and come back to power again after elections. Unfortunately, this has been the worst part of democracy in Nepal for years and the recent cabinet reshuffle also reflects the same,” Pradhan said.
He said that the prime minister is not in a position to reject anything that the coalition parties want simply because he has compromised with them for power-sharing at least until elections.
“At this point of time, Prime Minister Deuba is just like a lame duck although constitutionally he does not have to resign even if his coalition partners withdraw from the government and he loses the required majority in parliament,” Pradhan added.
Following the cabinet reshuffle, there could be some impact on the coalition partners in the coming months, as there are too many aspirants seeking ministerial berths.
“No one wants to serve [the people]; they just want to become ministers,” said Pradhan.
Meanwhile, leaders of the two ruling parties USP and JSP admit that they changed their ministers to manage their internal rifts even as questions have been raised from several quarters.
A senior leader of the Unified Socialist Party, told Indian Narrative, on condition of anonymity that his party’s leadership was left with no option to sustain the party than promising one thing or the other to their leaders.
“Yes, it was our compulsion. To manage the leaders, the leaders were already promised ministerial positions in the Deuba-led cabinet. Our party’s rift has been shelved at least for now,” he said.
The Unified Socialist Party (USP) was formed following the split in the CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist) led by KP Sharma Oli some in August last year while Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) was established following the merger between two Terai-based parties Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Samajwadi Party Nepal in April last year.
Prime Minister Deuba who came to power in July last year is running a coalition government comprising Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Unified Socialist Party (USP) led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) led by Upendra Yadav and some fringe parties. According to sources, the prime minister is presently holding consultations with the ruling parties to announce the dates for provincial and federal elections.
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