Nepalese prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday stripped 17 Maoist ministers — 10 cabinet and seven minister of state rank — in his ministry of their portfolios after they defied his instructions to quit.
Deuba had asked them to leave his ministry after Maoists had joined the main opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist-led Left alliance announced earlier this month.
He sacked the ministers hours after Maoist leader and home minister Janardan Sharma held a press conference and said the Maoists will not withdraw their ministers from the government.
Sharma accused Deuba of “conspiring to postpone” provincial and federal elections scheduled in two phases on November 26 and December 7.
“The Election Commission has informed us about Prime Minister Deuba’s move and therefore we are not going to quit the government as we had planned earlier,” he said at the press conference.
Sharma’s statement came after Maoist Chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal had assured Deuba that all his ministers were going to quit on Tuesday.
A furious Deuba conveyed to Dahal that he would snatch portfolios of the Maoist ministers after the press conference.
He offered energy ministry to Kamal Thapa, who was recently inducted as deputy prime minister along with six others from the Pro-Hindutva Rastriya Prajatantra Party
Deuba assumed responsibility of home and foreign affairs portfolios. Sharma had earlier held the portfolios.
Deuba apparently did not sack the Maoist ministers earlier as the Left alliance has been insisting that the Prime Minister can not remove them without the party concerned withdrawing them.
The ministers stripped of their portfolios are left without offices. They will, however, continue to enjoy other ministerial privileges.
Deuba, who is also the Chairman of the Nepali Congress, had given a deadline to Dahal to withdraw his ministers or face dismissals last week.
The warning had come after the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre joined the Left alliance without withdrawing its ministers two weeks ago.