Lumbini Chief Minister Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary on Sunday expanded his Cabinet for the third time in eight months, inducting two new ministers.
Provincial head Amik Sherchan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Krishna KC of the CPN (Maoist Centre) and Saroj Thapa of the Nepali Congress. KC has been assigned the Ministry of Urban Development while Thapa takes charge of the Ministry of Industry and Transport Management.
With the induction of the two ministers, the Chaudhary-led Cabinet now has nine members. However, his Cabinet is yet to get a full shape. The chief minister still oversees the forest, environment, tourism and drinking water portfolios.
Chaudhary, who formed a three-member Cabinet on April 27, expanded the Cabinet on May 22.
Fresh intra-party rift within the Congress has resurfaced with the Cabinet expansion. Chief Minister Chaudhary was all set to expand the Cabinet on Friday. But he postponed his plan due to serious disputes between the establishment and dissident factions of the Nepali Congress.
“The chief minister failed to maintain a balance within the party. He completely ignored the provincial party committee when expanding the Cabinet. The provincial committee also does not care about the government,” said Amar Singh Pun, Lumbini province committee president of the Nepali Congress.
Minister Thapa, who was elected to the provincial assembly from Pyuthan, is considered to be close to the Congress establishment faction. Chief Minister Chaudhary and Health Minister Raju Khanal are also from the establishment faction. The other camp in the party pressured the chief minister to appoint Bir Bahadur Rana of Palpa and Bishwaprem Pathak of Nawalparasi West in the provincial government.
A source at the office of chief minister, however, claimed that Thapa was appointed as minister after Pun could not recommend his nominee for minister.