Cabinet expansion: Upendra Yadav may be in at cost of Kamal Thapa

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Chances of Chairman of Federalist Socialist Forum (FSF) Upendra Yadav joining the government are increasing even as Chairman of the fourth largest party RPP--that had voted for Sher Bahadur Deuba in the election for prime minister (PM)--seems likely to remain outside the government as PM Deuba mulls Cabinet expansion.

A member of the task force of Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center), that is currently working on government expansion, said preparations will be completed by Saturday and the Cabinet will be expanded on Sunday or Monday.

The ruling coalition, together since formation of the Pushpa Kamal Dahal government, has now kept the issue of constitution amendment on hold after pushing for that for a long time. The coalition now has done away with the strategy of including as many parties as possible in the government as it does not have the compulsion of having to garner two-third majority for passing the amendment bill.  

"We don't want to form a jumbo Cabinet including RPP as there is no chance of mustering two-third majority for passing the amendment bill," the member stated.

The government had stepped back from presenting the amendment bill for voting as RPP could not guarantee vote of all its 37 lawmakers in support of the bill. "We were prepared to bring RPP by giving them deputy PM if there were chances of passing the amendment bill with support of all 37 RPP lawmakers," the member added. "There are questions about relevance of bringing RPP in the government after the party could not unite in support of constitution amendment," the member revealed.

Second-rung leaders of NC and Maoist Center have advised Deuba and Dahal to not immediately bring RPP in the government. "The two top leaders also more or less concur," the member added.

The Pashupati Shumsher Rana faction of RPP has been lobbying hard to join the government. Rana met Deuba in person and asked him to bring RPP in even without giving DPM. A Baluwatar source said Deuba has not made final decision about whether to bring RPP in or not due to the intense lobbying of the Rana faction.

The two ruling parties, however, seem ready to include FSF in the cabinet if its chairman Yadav were to join the government like he had told the parties a few weeks back. "We were ready to even make him DPM," the member of the task force stated.

Yadav had stepped back after Deuba and Dahal two weeks back decided to move constitution amendment forward by keeping Cabinet expansion on hold. Some in FSF had also opined it would be detrimental to the party to join the government before the third phase of polls.

"The situation has changed now. There is no immediate chance of constitution amendment. The chance of FSF joining the government has again increased in this situation," the member explained. It will also be easier for Yadav to join the government now that the chances of Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) Nepal taking part in the third phase of polls scheduled for September 18 have increased.

FSF has already participated in the first and second phase of local polls. RJP had been calling it traitor for taking part in the election by abandoning the agenda of Madhes. He will not have to face the accusations in the third phase were RJP to participate even without constitution amendment, and can instead claim that RJP's policy of boycotting election was wrong.

Yadav is ready to join the government if he were to get the ministry of his choice in this changed scenario. Deuba seems ready to give three ministries to FSF but there has yet to be any agreement on the ministries that the party will be given.

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