By Shiwani Neupane
Nepal’s new Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, 75, appointed 18 ministers from the Nepali Congress and CPN- UML to his cabinet yesterday. For Nepalis who are waiting for anything positive in politics, this is good news. After a haggling over the home- ministry for two weeks, Koirala at least got a cabinet.But truth be told, this isn’t good or bad news. It’s old news.
Koirala aims to form a constitution within a year with his new cabinet members. Nepal’s constitution has been in a stalemate since May 28, 2010, when a new constitution for the country was to be drafted.
But many Prime Ministers later, the country has failed to produce a constitution, mostly because the parties involved can never come up with a consensus of sorts.
One look at the list of cabinet members and it is clear that the names of parties may have changed, but the people are pretty much the same. They are mostly high caste Bahun and Chettri men who have ruled Nepali politics for decades. The number of women in the cabinet is two.
The cabinet in many ways seems like the old boys club, or in Nepal’s case the really old boys club. Our Prime Minister is 75, our Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam is 69 and even Prakash Man Singh, son of one of Nepal’s most loved leaders Ganesh Man Singh has grey hair now.
The cabinet isn’t just an old boy’s club by their ages. Like fraternities and golf clubs that fathers and sons join generation after generation, Nepali politics mirrors the same trend. The exclusiveness of fraternities is evident in our cabinet where the names of its members have been repeated in daily newspapers for decades as minister, political prisoner, chairman or vice-chairman – some members have even had all the titles above.
There are no new faces that stand out, no young people who year after year go abroad and get expensive degrees in Political Science and Governance, and barely any women.
What worries me most is that the old boys club has one habit that never seems to go away, which is haggling over something for days and months without any conclusion or respect for deadlines. While I want to be very hopeful, and really hope they do create a constitution this time, I cant help but have my doubts.
If you don’t believe me, Here’s the list of new cabinet members aka old politicians who have been in the business for decades:
Sushil Koirala (NC)-Prime Minister
Bamdev Gautam (UML)-Deputy Prime Minister/ Home
Prakash Man Singh (NC)- Deputy Prime Minister/ Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development
Dr Ram Sharan Mahat (NC)-Finance Minister
Dr Minendra Rijal (NC)-Information and Communications
Mahendra Bahadur Pandey (UML)-Foreign Affairs
Radha Gyawali (UML)-Energy
NP Saud (NC)-Irrigation
Narayan Khadka (NC)-Urban Development
Lalbabu Pandit (UML)-General Administration
Karna Bahadur Thapa (UML)-Industry
Khagaraj Adhikari (UML)-Health
Dala Bahadur Rana (UML)- Land Reform
Hari Parajuli (UML)-Agriculture
Purusottam Poudel (UML)l-Youth and Sports
Bhim Acharya (UML)-Tourism
Chitra Lekha Yadav (NC)-Education
Narahari Acharya (NC)-Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Mahesh Acharya (NC)-Forest and Soil conversation
Tek Raj Gurung (NC)- State Minister, Labor
Source: Republica Nepal