Speculation in Kathmandu on next Foreign Minister

A day after the swearing-in of Sher Bahadur Deuba as the Prime Minister of Nepal, suspense continued on the evident delay in announcing the name of the Foreign Minister. The PM was sworn in with four Cabinet colleagues but the portfolio of foreign affairs has not been assigned to anyone prompting speculation.

Among the names doing the rounds is Upendra Yadav of the Janata Samajvadi Party which is a member of the coalition led by Nepali Congress and Maoist Center. Mr. Yadav served as the Foreign Minister during the tenure of Jhalanath Khanal in 2011. His name is being discussed in Kathmandu as his party was not part of Tuesday’s ceremony at the residence of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

Other names include Prakash Sharan Mahat, former Foreign Minister during 2016 who had interacted with the late Sushma Swaraj. However, his chances appear to be less as Mr. Deuba has already given the Law and Home Ministries to candidates from his party and is under pressure to give the Foreign Minister’s post to coalition partners.

Non-political image

Another name doing the rounds if of billionaire industrialist Binod Chaudhry who also belongs to the Nepali Congress. There are also talks that the Maoist Center would like to see Narain Kaji Shreshtha as the Minister. However, the candidates of the Nepali Congress and the Maoist Center are under increasing pressure from the Janata Samajvadi Party as the party has not got any of the big Ministries and has not participated in the swearing-in of Mr. Deuba. There are also talks that the post could be given to a distinguished Nepali person who has a non-political image among the people.

The post acquires significance each time the country has to engage with major regional powers like India and China.

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