BHATTARAI’S CABINET EXPANSION The Record Breaking Prime Minister

After expanding his cabinet fourth time, prime minister Baburam Bhattarai sets a new record to lead the biggest government<br><STRONG>A CORRESSPODENT</STRONG>

Nov. 13, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-09 Nov. 11-2011 (Kartik 25,2068)<br>

Hours before, he left for Maldives, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai took two most controversial decisions which are expected to trigger controversies.

One of the most controversial decisions was the expansion of cabinet. Other is to pardon Maoist MP Bal Krishna Dhungel. Despite pressure by rights organization and civil society, prime minister has decided to pardon a Maoist MP, Dhungel, who was convicted of murder during the insurgency

With the cabinet deciding to exonerate the sitting MP, President Ram Baran Yadav, the constitutional head, will now is asked to pardon Dhungel. It creates a piquant situation for the president, who had
faced another difficult situation in 2009 when the Maoist government tried to sack the army chief and Yadav stepped in to reinstate the sacked general.

Supreme Court also sentenced him to life but the Maoist government has been trying to grant Dhungel amnesty saying the case was politically motivated

After leading 46 member cabinet, Bhattarai is the second prime minister in Nepal’s 240 histories to lead largest cabinet. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai expanded his Cabinet for the fourth time on Tuesday inducting six ministers from his own party and one from a fringe party. He also brought 18 state ministers on board. With the expansion, the Cabinet strength has reached 46, the biggest since Nepal was declared republic.

His secretariat is also reportedly largest in the history as he has already appointed four dozens party cadres in his secretariat.

He also recommended a senior Maoist leader Ram Karki, whom India once suspected to have links with underground organizations in north-eastern India, as Nepal's new ambassador to India. The proposed new Nepali ambassador to India Karki, who is married to an Indian from Sikkim, was known as Partha Chhetri during the 10-year Maoist insurgency.

When the Maoists first came to power in Nepal in 2008 after winning the election, the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda's cabinet nominated Karki in the same place. Earlier, he was also nominated by then prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala for the ambassador to France in 2007

However, France did not send consent and  India objected to the proposal on the strength of its intelligence reports that Karki had links to Indian insurgent groups in the North-East. It remains to be seen how India will react to Karki’s nomination.



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