KATHMANDU: Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Monday expanded his Cabinet for the fifth time since June, inducting four more ministers to take its strength to a record 54, evoking criticism from the poll panel.
Deuba inducted three ministers and a minister of state from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Democratic). With the new inductees, his Cabinet became the largest in Nepal's history.
The new ministers inducted were Science and Technology Minister Dipak Bohara, Forest Minister Bikram Panday, Industry Ministry Sunil Thapa, and Minister of State for Industry Resham Lama.
The 71-year-old leader in June became the prime minister for the fourth time, succeeding Maoist leader Prachanda, who resigned from the position as part of a power-sharing deal.
Nepalese prime ministers have had a history of having a jumbo-size Cabinet. In 1996, Deuba formed a 48-member Cabinet and a few years later, then premier Baburam Bhattarai had a 49-member Cabinet.
The Election Commission today expressed its dissatisfaction over the Cabinet expansion. The EC said in a statement the expansion was against the code of conduct of Provincial Assembly and House of Representatives.
The chairman of the main opposition party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), KP Oli also took a swipe at the expansion, saying the price of vegetables have increased, but the value of ministers have decreased.
RPP's chairman Pashupati Shamsher Rana said his party decided to join the Deuba government with an objective of concluding the third phase of local level election in province 2 as well as federal and provincial elections, the Kathmandu Post reported.