Deuba gives full shape to cabinet, inducting controversial faces, awarding ministerial berth to non-MP

Amid news reports saying that the Chief Justice is ‘asking for his share’ in the government, Sher Bahadur Deuba appointed a non-parliamentarian, allegedly close to CJ Rana, as the Minister for Industry.

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Kathmandu: Almost three months after taking charge of the government, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday finally gave full shape to the Council of Ministers.

Deuba was heavily criticized for failing to expand the cabinet. It took him almost three months to reach a consensus with the coalition partners.

The four-party coalition has reached an agreement to allocate ten ministries to the Nepali Congress, and five each to Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal, CPN (Unified Socialist), and CPN (Maoist Center). 

The Prime Minister has inducted 16  ministers and two state ministers on Friday. However, this time too, the government has inducted some controversial faces in the cabinet.

A few days after reports emerged that Chief Justice Cholendra Shumser Rana had demanded his ‘share’ in the cabinet, Deuba appointed Gajendra Hamal, a non-parliamentary member close to Rana, as the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies. The appointment has raised a big question on the relevance of parliament.

Hamal, an erstwhile Nepali Congress leader, has been appointed under the Nepali Congress quota. But he is a non-MP and was reportedly recommended by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana. 

Ever since reports of CJ Rana seeking his share in the cabinet became public, there was widespread criticism against both PM Deuba (for failing to say no to such an illegitimate demand) and the CJ (for demanding such a share). With Hamal in, people are questioning ‘if a non-MP is to be appointed as a minister, what is the need for Parliament and election?’

“Why is the government taking the country towards a non-parliamentary, non-democratic and non-constitutional process? All these questions should be answered by the government in the days to come,” said Hari Roka, a political analyst.

Talking briefly to Nepal Live Today, Hamal remarked that Nepali Congress, not the Chief Justice, picked him as a minister.

“Can a Chief Justice appoint a minister? The Prime Minister selected me to the post recognizing my contributions to the party,” Hamal said.

Political analysts say that the practice of inducting a non-MP in the cabinet can erode the very essence of the principle of separation of powers, the bedrock of the parliamentary democratic system.

“Legally, there is a provision that a non-MP can be a minister for six months. So, appointing a non-MP if they are competent to lead a ministry is itself not wrong,” said political analyst Dr Indra Adhikari. 

While indicating the media reports of Hamal being appointed under the quota of Chief Justice, Adhikari further said that if such reports are true, such an appointment cannot be justified. “If the media reports are true, this sort of practice is an open challenge to the principle of the separation of powers between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. The ‘separation of powers’ and ‘check and balance’ are the essence and spirit of the constitution,” she said. 

Similarly, newly-minted Minister for Labor, Employment and Social Security Krishna Kumar Shrestha ‘Kisan’ is one of the accused of the alleged ‘abduction’ of the erstwhile Janata Samajwadi Party lawmaker Surendra Yadav. 

Another newly-appointed Minister for Urban Development Prem Ale invited widespread ridicule after he claimed, in a speech, that trees give carbon dioxide to humans. 

Likewise, he also distributed oxygen cylinders ‘donated by China’ to hospitals in Doti and Kailali districts by sticking his own pictures on them.

Full list of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Cabinet:

  • Prime Minister: Sher Bahadur Deuba
  • Minister for Home Affairs: Bal Krishna Khand
  • Minister for Communication and Information Technology: Gyanendra Bahadur Karki
  • Minister for Energy, Water Resource and Irrigation: Pampha Bhusal
  • Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration: Rajendra Prasad Shrestha
  • Minister for Health and Population: Birodh Khatiwada
  • Minister for Finance: Janardan Sharma
  • Minister for Defence: Minendra Rijal
  • Minister for Water Supply: Umakanta Chaudhary
  • Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport: Renu Kumari Yadav
  • Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation: Prem Bahadur Ale
  • Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs: Dilendra Prasad Badu
  • Minister for Education, Science and Technology: Devendra Poudel
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs: Narayan Khadka
  • Minister for Agriculture: Mahindra Raya Yadav
  • Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizen: Uma Regmi
  • Minister for Land Management: Shashi Shrestha
  • Minister for Urban Development: Ram Kumari Jhakri
  • Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies: Gajendra Bahadur Hamal
  • Minister for Forest and Environment: Ram Sahayak Prasad Yadav
  • Minister for Labor, Employment and Social Security: Krishna Kumar Shrestha
  • Minister for Youth and Sports: Maheshwor Jung Gahatraj
  • State Minister at Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers: Umesh Shrestha
  • State Minister Health and Population: Bhawani Prasad Khapung
  • State Minister for Education, Science and Technology: Bodhmaya Kumari Yadav