Nepal PM Deuba sets record by inducting 54 ministers

Time & Us
Last Updated: September 12, 2017 at 12:50 am

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Monday installed the largest cabinet in Nepal’s history with 54 ministers, breaking his own record dating back to 1996.

With three ministers and a minster of state being administered the oath of office, the size of his cabinet swelled to 54.

Deuba faced a huge backlash in public and on social media as people questioned his decision to expand the cabinet at a time when the next general election has already been announced and the government will be in office for only four months.

With the third phase of elections to local government bodies scheduled for September 18, there were allegations that he had violated the code of conduct for polls.

KP Oli, chairman of the main opposition CPN-Unified Marxist-Leninist, jokingly remarked that “even a potato has its value but there is no value for ministers in Nepal”.

A statement issued by the Election Commission on Monday evening stated that the “expansion of the cabinet is a clear violation of the code of conduct and it will also raise question of impartiality of the government as elections to the local level (are) just one week (away)”.

The expansion of the cabinet will affect free and fair elections and the government should not resort to such actions, the commission said.

After the fifth expansion of the cabinet, it currently has 30 ministers and 24 ministers of state, making it the largest in Nepal’s history. In 1996, Deuba had set a record by forming a 48-member governing team.

“I do not see any rationale behind the huge size of the cabinet at a time when we are in a transitional phase,” political analyst Nilamber Acharya tweeted.

Opposition parties protested Deuba’s decision while ruling parties called it the “compulsion of the coalition”.

Many leaders of the ruling party also expressed dismay at the expansion. But the Prime Minister’s Office defended the decision. “Neither the PM has split any ministry nor he has added any additional portfolio. He inducted the parties who supported him during the PM’s elections,” said Govinda Pariyar, the senior media adviser to Deuba.