Kathmandu: The long-running dispute within the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) seems to be moving towards a solution. On Friday, the two Chairmen, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, ‘Prachanda’, reached a preliminary agreement and handed the responsibility over to a task force to give it a more concrete form.
The task force formed under the leadership of General Secretary Bishnu Poudel includes potential ministers. With the exception of Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel, all leaders are potential ministers.
No one from the current government is participating in the task force to discuss the agreement. The task force consists of Coordinator Poudel, Chief Minister Pokharel, Bhim Rawal, Surendra Pandey, Janardan Sharma and Pampha Bhusal. Of these, all are potential ministers except Chief Minister Pokharel.
A preliminary agreement reached between the two Chairmen on Friday called for a cabinet reshuffle to make the government’s work more effective. According to a source, almost all ministers who have completed two years in the government will be replaced in their positions during the cabinet reshuffle.
According to a source, Prime Minister Oli can continue with Home Minister Thapa to balance the secretariat. So far, Home Minister Thapa has been presenting himself in the secretariat meeting without opposing Prime Minister Oli. But some insiders claim that Thapa’s ministry could be rearranged.
Bishnu Poudel and Surendra Pandey, members of the task force tasked with seeking consensus in the party, are seen as the most likely candidate for the role of the Finance Minister. There have been talks within the CPN that Janardhan Sharma will fill the position of the Minister of either Home or Energy, Bhim Rawal will work at the Foreign Ministry and Pampha Bhusal will also be appointed to one. Prime Minister Oli has been doing thorough background research on these candidates in trying to restructure the cabinet.
According to a source, the names of the future ministers will be brought up at a secretariat meeting and a decision will be taken by consensus, based on the suggestions given by the members of the secretariat. This time around, he is looking to form a cabinet that includes mostly senior party leaders.
Disputes had erupted within the CPN after party Chairman Prachanda, senior leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and Narayan Kaji Shrestha demanded Prime Minister Oli either resign from the party’s chairmanship or from his role as Prime Minister. Oli has taken a stand against his resignation from both posts. According to an agreement reached between the two chairmen on Friday, Oli will step down from the party’s chairmanship and lead the government for five years.
According to a source, the two leaders have agreed that Prachanda will lead the party’s executive leadership until the general convention, run the party according to its rules and regulations, consult the secretariat before making any important political appointments and fully support the government’s work.
A task force, comprising leaders of all three factions including Oli, Prachanda and Nepal, is immediately bound to end the dispute within the CPN as long as it can prepare a final blueprint of the consensus.
How the cabinet can be restructured
“Prime Minister Oli has decided to dismiss the Minister for Energy Barshaman Pun, Minister for Forests and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Minister for Education Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Minister for Water Supply Bina Magar from their respective offices,” said a source. “Prime Minister Oli is positive towards the Home Minister Thapa and Industry Minister Lekhraj Bhatt. It is said that Bhatta is likely to be transferred to another ministry.”
The names of Janardan Sharma, Haribol Gajurel, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Prabhu Shah, and Pampha Bhusal from the former Maoists are being included in the discussion of appointing new ministers.
Former UML Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel, Basanta Nemwang, Shivamaya Tumbahangphe, Parbat Gurung, Ghanshyam Bhusal, and Yogesh Bhattarai are likely to continue their roles in the cabinet. The party is preparing to hand over the responsibility of the party to Deputy Prime Minister Pokharel after dismissing ministers who have reached the tenure of two years.
Former UML general secretaries Bishnu Poudel, Bhim Rawal, Surendra Pandey, Som Prasad Pandey, Sher Bahadur Tamang, Ganesh Thagunna and Prem Ale are also included in the discussion of possibly becoming new ministers.