11 ministers of consensus cabinet sworn in; portfolios of Maoist and NC ministers yet to be decided

KATHMANDU, May 5: Eleven ministers from the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and various Madhes-based parties have taken the oath of office and secrecy Saturday night as a part of the five-point deal reached among three major parties and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) to form a national consensus government under Baburam Bhattarai.

The new cabinet has two deputy prime ministers – Narayankaji Shrestha of UCPN (Maoist) and Bijay Gachchhadar of UDMF. NC has however, has not been given the post of deputy prime minister. Both the NC and Maoist ministers have also not been assigned portfolios, but all the UDMF ministers will retain the same ministries as they held in the previous government.

The other main party, CPN-UML said it would announce names of the ministers representing the party by Sunday.

This is the first national consensus government formed after the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in April, 2008.

The ministers sworn in by Prime Minister Bhattarai in the presence of President Ram Baran Yadav at Shital Niwas include Narayankaji Shrestha, Post Bahadur Bogati, Barshaman Pun, Dina Nath Sharma and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi from the Maoist and Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Surya Man Gurung from Nepali Congress.

Likewise, Bijay Gachchhadar, Hridayesh Tripathi, Raj Kishor Yadav and Mahendra Yadav of the UDMF also took the oath. But Rajendra Mahato, Chairman of Sadbhawana Party, one of the constituent parties of the UDMF, could not take oath as he is currently in Janakpur to attend the party´s general convention.

Of the already assigned portfolios, Gachchhadar holds home and defense ministries in addition to DPM, Tripathi and Mahato will hold physical planning and works and health ministries respectively. Likewise, Raj Kishor Yadav holds ministry of information and communications and Mahendra Yadav is irrigation minister.

The parties agreed to form a 27-member cabinet comprising six ministers each from the Maoist, NC, UML and the UDMF as well as two ministries from fringe parties represented in the Constituent Assembly (CA).

NC failed to name four other ministers allocated to them after Sher Bahadur Deuba faction boycotted a CWC meeting that was called to finalize name of ministers representing the party.

Two new ministries formed, six reconstituted

The first cabinet meeting held after inducting 11 new ministers Saturday night renamed and reconstituted six and formed two new ministries.

Sources said the cabinet meeting decided to rename the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives as Ministry of Agriculture Development and form a separate Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviations.

Likewise, Ministry of Labour and Transport was reconstituted as Ministry of Labour and Employment, removing the component of transport to other ministry. The meeting decided to reconstitute Local Development Ministry as Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, bringing a component of federal affairs that was with ministry of culture, Ministry of Physical Planning and Works and Transport Management, incorporating a component of transport that was with Labour and Transport ministry.

Similarly, the cabinet reconstituted Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation by incorporating culture component.

The meeting formed a separate Ministry of Urban Development.

The meeting appealed all political parties in the parliament to join the government and urged all agitating parties in different parts of the country to exercise restraints and call off all their strikes.

The meeting held at the prime minister´s office in Singha Durbar late Saturday night also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of life and properties due to flash flood in Kaski district.REPUBLICA

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