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Nepal’s PM Prachanda inducts 15 new faces in Cabinet

Nepal’s newly anointed PM Prachanda has expanded his cabinet

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda on Tuesday expanded his cabinet by including 12 ministers and three state ministers.

Amid a function held at Sheetal Niwas, the president’s office, the new ministers took oath of office and secrecy from President Bidya Devi Bhandari. Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, parliamentarians, high-ranking government officials and chiefs of security agencies attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Rajendra Lingden has been appointed deputy prime minister and energy minister. He is also chairman of pro-monarchy and pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). Lingden has never held the country’s executive positions.

From the RPP, Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan and Bikram Pandey have been appointed minister for law and minister for urban development. Pradhan is also a former chief of the Nepal Police while Pandey is a former minister and construction entrepreneur. Pandey runs Kalika Construction Private Limited, a tainted construction firm in Nepal. Deepak Singh of RPP has been appointed the state minister for energy

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist)’s Bimala Rai Paudyal has been appointed the minister for foreign affairs. She is a member of the National Assembly, the upper house of parliament. Paudyal, who once served as an advisor to President Bhandari, has never held any executive positions dealing with the country’s foreign policy issues in the past. She worked as a member of the National Planning Commission. Besides that, she worked with several international non-government organizations including UK-funded ActionAid.

The CPN-UML’s Padam Giri, Bhagawati Chaudhary and Hari Uprety have been appointed minister for health, minister for women and minister for defence respectively.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center)’s Rekha Sharma, Aman Lal Modi and Sudan Kirati have been appointed minister for communications, minister for general administration and minister for tourism. Sharma served as the minister for general administration in the past. Sushil Shreeepali Thakur of the CPN (Maoist Center) has been appointed the state minister for tourism.

The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP)’s Shishir Khanal, who is an educationist by profession, was sworn in as minister for education. Dol Prasad Aryal, the vice president of RSP, has been appointed the minister for labor. The RSP’s Toshima Karki, who is a surgeon by profession, has been appointed the state minister for health.

Today, Prime Minister Prachanda also finalized the portfolios of four ministers who had taken oath of office and secrecy on December 26.

Abdul Khan, who belongs to the CK Raut’s Janamat Party, has been named minister for drinking water and sanitation.

Similarly, CPN UML lawmakers Jwala Kumari Sah, Damodar Bhandari and Rajendra Kumar Rai have been named minister for agriculture, minister for industry and minister for land reforms respectively.

Earlier today afternoon, President Bhandari appointed and distributed the portfolios to the new ministers upon the recommendation of Prime Minister Prachanda.

Top leaders of the seven-party ruling coalition had agreed on ministerial allocations late Monday night.

The development comes three weeks after Prachanda, also the chairperson of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center), became the country’s prime minister in coalition with KP Sharma Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and five other parties.

Prachanda’s Maoist party was a partner in the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government since July 2021, and had gone into November 20 polls in alliance with the then five-party ruling alliance led by the Congress.

Last week, Prachanda also secured a vote of confidence in Nepal’s parliament by winning over two-thirds majority. Despite the fact that the Maoists quit the alliance with the Congress party a month ago, the party alsobacked Prachanda’s bid to get the vote of confidence. It is learnt that the Congress voted for Prachanda with the hope of reviving the previous coalition by changing the balance of power and sidelining the CPN-UML.

Earlier Prachanda inducted eight ministers. This is the second time Prachanda expanded his cabinet after he became the country’s prime minister on December 26. Earlier, Prachanda had formed an eight-member cabinet immediately after his appointment as the prime minister.

Bishnu Poudel has been the deputy prime minister and finance minister in the cabinet.

Ravi Lamichhane, chairman of the Rastriya Swantantra Party, was appointed the deputy prime minister and home minister.

Vice Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center), Narayan Kaji Shrestha, was appointed the deputy prime minister and physical infrastructure and transport minister.