President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday administered the oath of office and secrecy to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal at Sheetal Niwas.
Seven other members of the Dahal Cabinet, including three deputy prime ministers, also took the oath from the President in the presence of PM Dahal.
Of the Cabinet members, two are from the CPN (Maoist Center), four from CPN-UML and one each from the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and the CK Raut-led Janamat Party.
They are deputy prime ministers Rabi Lamichhane, chairman of RSP; Narayan Kaji Shrestha, senior vice-chair of CPN (Maoist Center); and Bishnu Poudel, vice-chairman of UML.
Lamichhane holds the additional portfolio of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whereas Poudel and Shrestha hold the portfolios of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Physical Planning and Infrastructure, respectively.
For Lamichhane, who formed RSP about seven months ago, it was a meteoric rise to power. Earlier, there were reports that the party had two minds about joining the upcoming government. But Lamichhane put those doubts to rest by staking claim on the Home Ministry.
The Cabinet has Damodar Bhandari, Jwala Kumari Sah, Rajendra Rai from the UML and Abdul Khan from the Janamat Party as ministers without portfolio. The work division of these ministers is to be decided later, probably in the second round of Cabinet expansion.
PM Dahal, chair of the Maoist party, had struck a deal with UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, ditching a ruling dispensation with the Nepali Congress. The deal materialized after indications that the NC, which led the erstwhile five-party ruling coalition and emerged as the largest party in Nov 20 federal and provincial elections, appeared unlikely to give the Maoist party any major role in the upcoming dispensation. NC’s last-ditch effort to salvage the coalition failed, effectively relegating the largest party in the House of Representatives to the opposition bench.
RSP, Janamat Party and the Laxman Tharu-led Nagarik Unmukti Party also came on board at Sunday’s Dahal-Oli meet at the latter’s residence in Balkot, ensuring a 170-strong majority in the House of Representatives that has a total of 275 seats.
Unlike in the beginning of his earlier stints as prime minister, Dahal this time took the oath donning Daura-Suruwal, capping it all with the Bhadgaunle Topi.
Is this minor change an indication of a more effective and efficient premiership in the offing? Or the adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same will hold true, again? Only time will tell.