KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 1

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who has agreed to abide by Nepal Communist Party (NCP) decisions, faces a dilemma after NCP Deputy Chair Bamdev Gautam expressed his desire to be nominated to the National Assembly.

The 59-member NA has three members nominated by the president on the recommendation of Council of Ministers, but the president has nominated only two members. If the government recommends Gautam to the NA, it could affect Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada’s chances of retaining his portfolio.

Khatiwada has to be nominated to the NA by Saturday, or else he will have to quit the Cabinet.

As per a constitutional provision, a minister who is not a member of the federal parliament can hold the ministerial portfolio only for six months. Khatiwada will complete six months in the Cabinet without being a federal lawmaker on Saturday.

The president, who can nominate three members to the NA, has yet to nominate one member after Khatiwada’s two-year NA term ended in March.

The PM wanted to nominate Khatiwada to the NA six months ago, but shied away from doing so after Gautam expressed his desire to join the National Assembly.

But this time, the PM may not want to antagonise Gautam, as his recent six-point proposal helped swing the balance in the NCP in Oli’s favour, albeit temporarily.

The NCP faction led by party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal had asked Oli to step down as PM or party cochair, but the PM had refused to quit any of the two posts. Gautam had stated in his six-point proposal that Oli should remain the PM till the next general election and the party’s co-chair till the party’s unity convention.

The six-member task force of the ruling party formed to end the stalemate between the two cochairs made recommendations almost on the lines of Gautam’s proposal.

Gautam’s personal aide Bishwamani Subedi said Gautam, who was assured by party leaders of making him a House of Representatives member in an attempt to make him the prime minister, did not find the alternative attractive in the changed scenario and was keen to become an NA member instead.

NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said if Gautam wanted to become an NA member, the issue would come up for discussion in the party Secretariat meeting and the party would decide who should be nominated to the NA.

Asked if the PM would nominate Khatiwada to the NA, Prime Minister’s Press Adviser Surya Thapa said Khatiwada was a competent finance minister and it would be unfortunate if attempt was made dislodge him from the post.

Meanwhile, a source said if the prime minister wanted to retain Khatiwada as the finance minister without making him the Upper House member, he could ask him to resign and appoint him a minister for another six months after a day or two.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 2, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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