Who is Prachanda?
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, commonly known as Prachanda is a prominent Nepali politician. He is currently the chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPNM). He started a revolution and won the support of the citizen of Nepal and led a guerrilla war against the government. He served as Prime Minister of Nepal from 2008 to 2009. He was again elected Prime Minister of Nepal on August 3, 2016 after his predecessor K.P. Oli resigned. Prachanda launched communist insurgency in February 1996 and the ensuing civil war led to the death of more than 17,000 Nepalese. However, the movement succeeded in forcing democratic elections in Nepal, which were held in 2008 and the CPN (M) emerged as the strongest party. Prachanda, hoever, resigned as Prime Minister on 4th May 2009 after his attempt to sack the army chief of Nepal, General Rookmangud Katawal, was scuttled by the President Ram Baran Yadav.
Childhood & Early Life
Prachanda was born on 11 December, 1954 in the small village of Kaski district which is 143 kms away from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. He comes from a poor family of farmers.
His family moved to Chitwan when he was 11-year-old and he spent most of his childhood in this place.
In the year 1975, Prachanda graduated from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) in Rampur, Chitwan, with a diploma in Agricultural Science. After this, he also worked at a rural development project at Jajarkot.
One thing that drew him towards the leftist politics was the poverty which he had witnessed throughout his childhood.
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His political career took off in the year 1980. He headed the All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (Revolutionary) Party. This union was affiliated to the radical Communist Party of Nepal (Masal).
In the year 1981, he joined the underground Communist Party of Nepal (Fourth Convention).
In 1989, Prachanda became the general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal). After many splits and controversies, this party was renamed as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on March 1995. Prachanda chose the word Maoist to show their support to the term.
Prachanda became popular after his public appearance in June 2006. This was the time when he came forward to negotiate the creation of a new government for the country with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and other opposition leaders.
Prachanda also signed the comprehensive peace agreement on November 2006. During this time, the CPN(M) was working to make Prachanda the head of the new government.
In the 2008 elections the CPN (M) emerged as the strongest party and Prachanda was elected Prime Minister in August 2008 but he resigned as Prime Minister on 4 May 2009.
Prachanda was elected Prime Minister of Nepal on August 3, 2016 after his predecessor K.P. Oli resigned from his position.
On February 13, 1996, the CPN (M) launched their insurgent campaign to abolish the monarchy. This was headed by Prachanda and it started with attacks on several police stations. The campaign did not enjoy success throughout the 10 years of insurgency, but in the end they were able to abolish the monarchy which had ruled Nepal for almost 237 years.
Awards & Achievements
One of the biggest achievements of Prachanda’s career was winning 220 seats in the election of April 10, 2008 in a 601 member constituent assembly. This made CPN(M) the single largest party.
In May 2008, the new assembly voted and Nepal a democratic country and on August 15, 2008, Prachanda was elected as the new Prime Minister. He was sworn in on August 18, 2008.
Personal Life & Legacy
Even after Nepal secured democracy in the year 1990, Prachanda remained mostly underground leading the clandestine wing of the Communist party of Nepal (Maoist).
His underground life of 25 years has been covered by Anirban Roy in his book, ‘Prachanda: Ek Agyat Bidrohi’. Anirban Roy is the ex-Nepal correspondent of the Hindustan Times.
During the 10 year period of insurgency in Nepal, Prachanda remained underground. Eight of these years were spent in India.
Baburam Bhattarai was the public face of the CPN(M) for the period when Prachanda was underground. But, in 2004 and 2005, their relationship became sour due to disagreement over power sharing within the party.
One of his political gurus and an important companion during 10 years civil war, Mohan Baidya (Kiran) had a fall-out with him over the future course of action by the party. Kiran wanted another civil war but Prachanda and Baburai Bhattarai advocated that the party should support the current parliamentary system and that they should be in the line of Peace and Constitution.