After weeks of wait, the Cabinet witnessed a reshuffle the other day after the Prime Minister inducted few fresh faces and adjusted the portfolios of two sitting ministers. The restructuring was expected after the chairpersons of the ruling Nepal Communist Party held strings of meetings between them to make a Cabinet overhaul to address the demands of several NCP leaders. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reciprocated by designating new ministers and changing the responsibility of a few others.
The second reshuffle of the Cabinet since the Prime Minister Oli assumed office almost two and half years ago saw NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel appointed Finance Minister and leader Krishna Gopal Shrestha inducted as the Minister for Urban Development. The Ministry for Women, Children and Senior Citizens has gone to leader Lila Nath Shrestha. Besides having three new appointees, the Council of Ministers also received an adjustment in the portfolios of two sitting ministers. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwor Pokhrel has been handed over the duty to oversee the Prime Minister's Office and Council of Ministers, while PM Oli has kept Pokhrel's Defence portfolio with himself. Minister Parbat Gurung, who earlier held the Women, Children and Senior Citizens portfolio, now takes helms at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
With the latest reshuffle, the total number of members of the Council of Ministers has reached 25, as required by the constitution. Exceeding this figure would go against the Federal Charter. A close glance at the freshly appointed ministers indicates that the Prime Minister this time too has placed his confidence on the competent hands rather than bringing rookies in the Cabinet. Party General Secretary Paudel had held the Finance Ministry portfolio during Oli's initial tenure. Deputy Prime Minister Pokhrel is a seasoned leader who has enjoyed different ministerial portfolios on various occasions. His new position would grant him time to work more closely with the PM and fellow ministers. Krishna Gopal Shrestha had previously held the Local Development Ministry as the State Minister. Minister Gurung too gained the required experience when he looked after the Women, Children and Senior Citizens Ministry. Lila Nath Shrestha, though new to hold a ministerial position, has stocks of experience as an NCP leader.
Earlier, it was said that the Cabinet would go through a massive overhaul, as some new members of the National Assembly along with new leaders would be recruited in the Cabinet, while many sitting ministers would be shown the exit. Prime Minister Oli did not terminate any sitting ministers but inducted new ministers who have demonstrated experience with them, which would come in handy for him while carrying out day-to-day affairs of the ministries and the government. Appointments of new ministers, alteration of ministerial portfolios, or even dismissals of any sitting ministers are the prerogative of the prime minister in the prime ministerial system of governance. PM Oli has reminded us of this fact. The latest reshuffle has indeed sent a message, loud and clear, that anyone who wants to dictate the terms in any cabinet restructuring would not be successful. The PM is free to appoint the ministers of his liking because the credibility of his government rests on the performance of his ministers.