Nepal deadlock eases, cabinet gets 6 new ministers

June 24th, 2009 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 24 (IANS) Within 72 hours of Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon’s visit to Nepal to give a push to the stagnating peace process, the political deadlock gripping Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s nearly one-month-old government eased Wednesday with the Terai parties reining in disputes and sending representatives to the cabinet.

With the induction of six new ministers, Nepal’s expanded council of ministers now has 28 ministers, including himself.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, the biggest Terai party that had locked horns with the government demanding plum ministries, Wednesday sent Sharad Singh Bhandari as tourism and civil aviation minister, and Mrigendra Kumar Singh as agriculture and cooperatives minister.

The Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP), the fifth largest party in the house, sent three ministers, making its debut in the government since its inception during last year’s election.

The TMLP ministers are Ram Chandra Kusabhah (education and sports), Mahendra Yadav (Commerce) and Ganesh Nepali (youth and sports).

The third Terai party that too had been negotiating for berths - the Sadbhavana Party - however stayed away accusing the Nepal government of going against consensus politics.

A former royalist party, the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), also entered the alliance, sending its senior leader Deepak Bohara as forest and soil conservation minister.

With Wednesday’s inductions, Nepal now heads a six-party alliance in which the dominant partners are the Nepali Congress and his own Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist.

With the infighting among the allies for powerful ministries reaching some kind of reconciliation, the new government is also trying to reach an understanding with the biggest party, the Maoists, who are sitting in opposition and have kept up a siege on parliament since the fall of their government last year.

The decision-making unit of the Maoists, the politburo, is currently engaged in drawing up its future strategy. The Maoists favour a national government under their leadership and have refused Nepal’s proposal to join his government.

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