Scene shifts to house
Why Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should have told the media that his pursuit of a two thirds majority in the executive parliament for constitutional amendment continues to incur the wrath of nitpickers should perhaps be explained in yet another expansion of his already bloated council of ministers. This round he is bound to prey on the srecently splintered RPP led by old hand Pashupati Shumshere who has emerged fresh from the legitimacy provided by the Election Commission and Supreme Court decision to recognize his group as a separate party in parliament as distinct from that led by Kamal Thapa. As rumor would have it, eight new faces will be added to the ministerial ranks and the vociferous criticism emanating from the Thapa quarters since the splinter carries meaning especially when it centers around government's role in engineering the split. The loser clearly is Thapa and his fragmented party since, as rumored, Deuba was not willing to admit yet another deputy prime minister in his swelling cabinet and, perhaps more importantly, since the addition of numbers from his quarters would make his standpoint on amendments uncertain still. The first fissures in a newly consolidated RPP came about when Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani chose to question Thapa's style of leadership. Lohani, who heads another RPP party still is said to favor an agitation for political change but is likely to lose supporters from among the parliamentary members eyeing him since all three RPPs have similar standpoints on the constitution. An eye opener on the trends to expect from the RPP, however, may be clued in the fact that, if the Thapa section voted against the amendment in parliament last week, the rest of the RPP just were not present for the vote. It is thought that this absent body largely included whole and sole in the party led by Pashupati will be decisive in the RPP in the days to come when parliament will be the focus of politics until Deuba chooses to dissolve it. As it stands, when scene shifts to elections or when holiday season comes, business in parliament will remain dormant enough to suit Deuba.