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Reshuffling Cabinet And Adjusting Power Sharing

Issue November 2019

Reshuffling Cabinet And Adjusting Power Sharing

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Chairman Prachanda and Chairman-cum Prime Minister KP Oli have reshuffled the cabinet and adjusted the power sharing in the mutual understanding, and agreed on running the administration and the party in the same spirit. The outgoing six ministers and the three ministers of state were replaced with the incoming six ministers and three ministers of state keeping the number of ministers in the cabinet the same. The new arrangement made in running the party and the government has certainly strengthened the position of Prachanda in the party thanks to his skill in manipulating the colleagues and cadres.


The two powerful Chairmen Prachanda and KP Oli have not only rearranged the cabinet of ministers discarding the unwanted folks but also adjusted the power sharing in the party shifting the balance of power to Prachanda, who emerged more powerful, and who prepared himself for taking over the state power in case of Oli would need to quit the job for the health reason or otherwise. Thus, Prachanda has consolidated his hold in the party and moved forward to the state power if we are to believe in the briefings made to the reporters by the spokesman for the NCP: Narayankaji Shrestha.


Prime Minister Oli has surrendered most of the power in the party making Prachanda an Executive Chairman of the party. From now on, Oli would sit as a ceremonial chairman on a par with Prachanda at the party meetings at least for some time to come, and Prime Minister Oli would need to consult with Prachanda in running the administration. That was what we could understand from the briefings of the party spokesman.


The fired six ministers and three ministers of state must have been the eyesores for Prime Minister Oli. Some of them such as former Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply Matrika Yadav, and former Minister for General Administration Lalbabu Pandit must have been the bitter colleagues in the cabinet for Prime Minister Oli because both of these folks were sincere and had the strong willpower to do something for the country.


If we were to believe in the news posted on on November 20, 2019, Matrika Yadav had tried to revive the closed large state-owned industries such as Bhrikuti Paper Mill, Hetauda Textile Mill, Gorkhali Rubber Udoyog and so on but Prime Minister Oli did not cooperate with him to do so rather Prime Minister Oli forced him to get done the Industrial Park in Damauli in the prime minister’s constituency in Jhapa even though it went against the prevailing law.


Minister Matrika Yadav moved out of the ministerial residence, and returned the ministerial vehicle he had been using when it became sure that he was going out of the cabinet even before the cabinet change was announced, and he went to reside in the rented house at Thimi in Bhaktapur, the news published on November 21, 2019 on the front page of “gorkhapatra” stated.


Matrika Yadav demonstrated how sincere he was immediately quitting the benefits of a minister before he was actually fired from the job unlike other ministers, who had often kept the official vehicles running for months and months if not for years even after they quit the ministerial jobs. Probably, Matrika Yadav wanted to prove that a sincere person like him had no place in the cabinet of Prime Minister Oli.


Another smart minister and probably the sincere one, too Mr. Lalbabu Pandit had to go even though he had demonstrated his personality, sincerity and integrity in the previous cabinet of Oli and in the current cabinet before the reshuffle, too. Unfortunately, Mr. Pandit had to abandon the ministerial job.


Mr. Pandit held the portfolio of environment in the cabinet, and then he went to take the portfolio of general administration in the cabinet of Mr. Oli before the current reshuffle. While he was a minister for environment, Mr. Pandit literally and virtually ran after the cattle on the streets of the Kathmandu city.


Then, Prime Minister Oli shifted Mr. Pandit from the ministry of environment to the ministry of general administration. His main responsibility was to adjust the civil servants to the three layers of the state administration such as the federal administration, the provincial, and ultimately the local.


Mr. Pandit spent months and months on trying to adjust the civil servants, who had put forward many excuses not to go away from the cozy places to the less lucrative areas in the provinces or the local governments. Mr. Pandit had issued some threatening statements to scare the civil servants, who knew the rules and regulations and could not be moved. Most of the civil servants came out of the local governments following the so-called adjustment leaving the local governments without any officials to run even the daily administration causing tremendous difficulties in the service delivery, and the development work.


Probably, Mr. Pandit must have earned a lot of enemies rather than earning merits from doing good things for the state. So, his enemies must have reached Prime Minister Oli to throw away the impediment to their interest. The removal of Mr. Pandit must be following a number of unfavorable reports probably presented to the prime minister. Thus, another minister with the intention of doing good for the country and of remaining sincere had to leave the ministerial job.


Some other ministers trying to stop other ministers from doing good, and other ministers even doing good had to quit the job, too for making room for other colleagues to join the cabinet.


For example, former Minister for Physical Infrastructures and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth had been head-on collision with Minister for Home Ram Bahadur Thapa while breaking up the syndicate of the transporters in 2018. The home minister was to finish off the cartel of the transporters instantly but Mahaseth had a soft spot for the transporters. Mahaseth transferred one departmental head after another of the Department of Transport probably to suit his interest.


Some of the ministers that had provoked the public wrath had remained intact.


Minister for Communications and Information Technology and spokesman for the government Gokul Baskota had been very smart to misinform the public, and had been instrumental to craft the most controversial Media Council Bill that had provoked an intense anger from the reporters, journalists, media houses and the publishers, and the opposition Nepali Congress party that had vehemently opposed it stating the bill was to restrict the freedom of expression.


Another minister that inflamed the public protests had been Ms. Padma Aryal the Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives, and Poverty Alleviation. She had submitted the Guthi Bill at the National Assembly for legally grabbing the private, public and state land belonging to various Guthi that had been for preserving and running the cultural heritages. The stakeholders rose up in Kathmandu to protest against the Guthi Bill demanding to retract it. The protests had virtually shaken the Oli administration that had to force Ms. Aryal to withdraw the bill. Fortunately for her, she remained in the reshuffled cabinet.


Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai had incited the intense protest from the passengers when he illegally held up the plane at the Nepalgunj airport for one hour for him to have sufficient time to board the plane, and fly back to Kathmandu. The common folks’ views had been that was morally wrong, and administratively disaster, and he lost the trust of the common folks that such a person would run the state administration sincerely but he remained in the job.


Now going back to the power sharing agreement between Prachanda and Oli, the news in “gorkhapatra” published on November 21, 2019 stated that the party meetings would be presided over by two Chairmen Oli and Prachanda; however, in general the party meetings would be presided over and run by Chairman Prachanda, party spokesman Shrestha informed. He also said, “Over the period of the current House of Representatives, Chairman Oli will head the government and convey the message of the political stability.”


This statement of Oli heading the government over the period of the current House of Representatives surely put across the message of the NCP was not sure to win the majority in the next general elections, and it also suggested that Oli would keep the job of prime minister for the remaining period of the current House of Representatives; certainly, it also ensured the continuity of the Oli’s leadership in the government. Finally, it certainly indicated that the power slipped out of the Oli’s hands.


So, the cabinet reshuffle and the power sharing agreement between Prachanda and Oli had the important political and personal implications for some ministers and the two chairmen, too.


Nine folks had lost the ministerial jobs whereas another nine had gained the ministerial jobs. The winners must be receiving a lot of congratulations from the well-wishers, friends and loved ones, too whereas other nine must have been thinking what is next.


Prachanda has finally gained what he needed. He has been at the pivotal position in the party because the communist party places significant influences on the prime minister. In fact, the party chairman is more powerful than the prime minister in the communist world. For the time being, Prachanda pretends sharing the position of the chairman of the party with Oli but he has the executive power.


So, many winners and losers have been in the cabinet reshuffle, and one single winner in the adjustment of the power sharing in the Nepal Communist Party. He is clearly the Prachanda. He is the former prime minister and probably the future, too.


November 21, 2019

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