Nepal government reshuffle during pandemic

New ministers at Sital Nibas on Friday being sworn in by Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Oli has replaced his Health Minister and Foreign Minister, two key officials who had been leading his government’s Covid-19 response, in a Cabinet reshuffle late Friday.

The move comes even as the Supreme Court is bearing writ petitions to overturn his dissolution of Parliament and call for early elections, and as he continues to fight for his political survival.

Oli’s UML party has been depleted by a rebel faction that is threatening to register a new party, so he has inducted ten ministers from the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) which itself was split over whether to support Oli or not.

Oli has replaced some of his own UML ministers and replaced them with eight new ministers and two state ministers from the JSP, among them is Raghubir Mahaseth as the new Foreign Minister and Sher Bahadur Tamang as Health Minister.

The new Cabinet includes three deputy prime ministers: Mahaseth, as well as Rajendra Mahato from the JSP who also has the urban development portfolio and Bishnu Poudel from the UML who remains Finance Minister. 

The 17 ministers (only two of them women) were sworn in by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Sital Nibas on Friday evening. Prime Minister Oli has kept the Defence, Home, Communication, Agriculture, Industries and General Administration portfolio for himself for the time being, possibly to distribute it among members of the former Maoist party led by Ram Bahadur Thapa,  who have supported him during the current power struggle.


The council of ministers include:

K P Oli: Prime Minister, Defence, Home, Communication, Agriculture, Industries and General Administration

Bishnu Poudel: Deputy prime minister and Finance

Rajendra Mahato: Deputy prime minister and Urban Development

Raghubir Mahaseth: Deputy prime minister and Foreign

Sher Bahadur Tamang: Health

Krishna Gopal Shrestha: Education

Basanta Nembang: Infrastructure and Transport

Lilanath Shrestha: Law

Sarat Singh Bhandari: Energy

Anil Jha: Water Supply

BImal Srivastav: Labour

Uma Shankar Argaria: Forests

Laxmanlal Karna: Land Management

Chanda Chaudhari: Women, Children

Equal Miya: Youth and Sports

Chandrakant Chaudhari: State minister of Energy

Renuka Gurung: State minister of Women, Children


Among the 13 who have been removed from the Cabinet are Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi, Deputy Prime Minister and former Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel. Also exiting are Tourism Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal and Padma Aryal who handled the agriculture portfolio.

The new Foreign Minister Raghubir Mahaseth went straight from the swearing in to the Foreign Ministry to assume his office.

Raghubir Mahaseth lost no time after the swearing in, and went straight to the Foreign Ministry at 9pm to assume office. He had been removed as Infrastructure Minister by Oli in 2019 during a reshuffle after he was embroiled in a scandal involving the reinstatement of the transportation syndicates.

The new Health Minister Sher Bahadur Tamang defected from the rebel faction to Oli’s side recently, and has been a strong advocate in Parliament of legalising cannabis.