Childhood & Early Life
He was born on August 12, 1939 in the city of Biratnagar, Nepal to Bodh Prasad Koirala and Kuminidi Koirala as one of their six sons among nine children.
He was a descendant of the famous Koirala family of Nepal. Three of his cousins namely Girija Prasad Koirala, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and Matrika Prasad Koirala too served as Prime Minister of Nepal at different points of time.
Although Sushil Koirala had always maintained to have had an informal education, one of his sister-in-laws has informed that he attended a college in India from where he did his I.Com.
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He was motivated by the social and democratic principles of the ‘Nepali Congress’ that led him to join politics in his teens in 1954. All his three cousins namely Girija Prasad Koirala, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and Matrika Prasad Koirala remained members of the ‘Nepali Congress’ party holding high ranks in the party.
After joining the party he got actively involved in the party’s objective of carrying out democratic elections in Nepal. In 1959, the first ever democratic election was held in Nepal that saw his cousin Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala becoming the Prime Minister.
However, King Mahendra planned and executed a coup in December 1960 and expelled Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala. This incident resulted in exile of several members of the ‘Nepali Congress’ in India including Sushil Koirala.
He became actively involved in the resistance movement against the government of the King during the 60s and 70s. During his exile in India that lasted sixteen years, he began editing the party’s periodical, ‘Tarun’, in Varanasi.
In 1973, he was involved in hijacking of an aeroplane headed to India from Nepal. Although the operation fetched funds for the ‘Nepali Congress’, Sushil Koirala was incarcerated and he eventually spent three years in Indian jails.
In 1979, he went back to Nepal and continued his efforts in setting up a democratic government in the country, which finally led to an agreement with the ruling monarchy in 1990. In 1991 the legislative elections were held.
He was inducted as the ‘Central Working Committee’ member of the ‘Nepali Congress’ and eventually rose up in the party hierarchy. In 1996, he was appointed the General Secretary of the party and after two years he became the Vice President.
He was named the acting President of ‘Nepali Congress’ in 2008 by his cousin, Girija Prasad Koirala, the then President of the party.
Following the death of Girija Prasad Koirala in 2010, the ‘12th general convention’ of the ‘Nepali Congress’ party elected him as President of the party, a position he held till his death.
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The ‘Nepali Congress’ party came to prominence under the leadership of Sushil Koirala and it emerged as the largest party in the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections.
On February 10, 2014 he secured 105 votes of 194, thus defeating former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to become the new leader of the Nepali Congress Parliamentary party and was nominated as Prime Minister. The Nepali Congress Parliamentary party reached an agreement with the ‘Communist Party of Nepal’, and got the post of Prime Minister for him.
His government however faced severe criticism on many fronts. The unsatisfactory response of his government to the families of sixteen Sherpas, who succumbed to an avalanche on Mount Everest in April 2014, was highly censured. This got aggravated with the poor response from the government following deaths of dozens of trekkers with hundreds stranded in a snowstorm in the Annapurna region in October that year.
His government came under scrutiny again while facing probably its greatest challenge to tackle the devastating earthquake in Nepal that occurred on April 25, 2015, the worst catastrophe Nepal had seen in decades. The armed forces of Nepal were put into action and the government also sought international aid and assistance in its rescue, relief and rehabilitating operations.
A new constitution was adopted in Nepal in September 2015 that was agreed upon by the four major political parties of the country. Following the new constitution, on October 10, 2015, Sushil Koirala had to step down as Prime Minister to pave way for Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli of the ‘Communist Party of Nepal’. The latter was elected as new Prime Minister of Nepal by the legislature.
Personal Life & Legacy
He remained unmarried throughout his life and was neither known to have any relationship with any woman. He led a very simple life and had a clear image all through his political career.
According to an official website of the Nepal government, there was no property in the name of Sushil Koirala. He himself declared his three mobile phones to be his assets.
He was fondly called 'Sushil daa'.
Sushil Koiala was a heavy smoker and in 2006 became a victim of tongue cancer and in June 2014 he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
On February 10, 2016, he succumbed to pneumonia in the capital city of Kathmandu, Nepal.