KATHMANDU, Sept 3: In a bid to settle the power-sharing row with the Madhes-based parties, who had played key role in electing him as the new prime minister, Dr Baburam Bhattarai is mulling over allocating one more ministerial berth to them in the new government.
The prime minister showed willingness to accede one more ministry to the Madhesi leaders bifurcating either Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives or the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works into two.
Leaders from the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties reached the agreement to this effect at the meeting held at the prime minister´s office in Singha Durbar, Friday.
After being assured of one more ministerial berth in the new coalition, the Madhes-based parties have softened their claim over the deputy prime ministerial posts. As per the earlier arrangement, the Madhes-based parties were to get 11 ministries. But later the power-sharing arrangement hit a snag after chiefs of different Madhes-based parties staked claims over the post of deputy prime minister.
"The prime minister has assured us of 12 ministries and we (Madhes-based parties) have now agreed to not remain rigid over the post of deputy prime minister," Raj Kishore Yadav, co-chairman of Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Republican told Republica.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the chairmen of five Madhes-based parties--Madhesi People´s Rights Forum (Democratic), Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), TMDP-Nepal and Sadbhavana Party (SP) -- held till late evening failed to settle the row of power-sharing among themselves.
"Today (Friday) we have not reached any conclusion. We will hold next round of meeting Saturday and resolve the issue," SP Chairman Rajendra Mahato told Republica.
Maoists name ministerial-nominees
In the meantime, top Maoist leaders have prepared a list of nominees from their party for ministerial positions. A standing committee meeting earlier this week had mandated top three leaders -- Prime Minister Bhattarai, Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya--to select the nominees.
The likely faces are Posta Bahadur Bogati, Barshaman Pun, Lokendra Bista, Lekhraj Bhatta, Gopal Kiranti and Kamala Roka, from the Dahal faction, and CP Gajurel, Jaypuri Gharti, Mahendra Paswan, Tilak Pariyar and Sarala Regmi, from Baidya faction, and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Prabhu Sah, from the Bhattarai´s faction.
"However, the names are under discussion and will be announced at the party´s standing committee meeting, scheduled for Saturday, for endorsement," party standing committee member Amik Sherchan told Republica. "The meeting can make changes in the list."
Sources said, while the prime minister is for giving the finance ministry a leader from the Baidya faction, the party Chairman Dahal is determined to demand the portfolio for one of his confidants--Pun or Bogati.
According to the sources, Dahal has argued that while Bhattarai himself is the prime minister, the Baidya faction will get deputy prime minister and an important ministry like foreign affairs, and he (Dahal) should be free to nominate the finance minister.
Some leaders from the Baidya faction, however, said that the leaders from their camp might choose to stay out of the government. A standing committee member and Baidya´s confidant Netra Bikram Chand said, with the eruption of the key hand-over row, the issue of joining the government has become less important for them.