3 August 2016: Nepal has just gotten its 39th prime minister as K.P. Sharma Oli vacated his prime ministerial residence Wednesday afternoon.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda, was the first to become prime minister after Nepal became a republic in 2008.
The incoming prime minister, who was the only candidate for the top job during Wednesday’s election in the legislature parliament, was born into a simple lower-middle class family in 1954 in the district of Kaski. He was a regular school teacher before he became involved in leftist politics eventually going underground as he declared a war in 1996 on the then constitutional monarchy.
He joined the mainstream politics following a successful peace process in 2006. By the time, over 17 thousand people had lost their lives.
Before he unleashed his rebel army on the government forces, Prachanda had submitted a 40-point demand to the then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
As his armed rebellion raged on killing tens of thousands on both sides, Mr Deuba later announced a price tag of NRs 5 million on Prachanda’s head.
Twenty years on, amid events that do prove that politics is indeed a game of possibilities, it is the same Sher Bahadur Deuba who helped him overthrow K.P. Oli government (CPN-UML) to become prime minister for a second take.
Before he exited the address, Mr Oli reportedly planted a sacred fig (peepal) tree on the premises of the official residence of the prime minister of Nepal.
Mr Deuba, who is also the president of Nepali Congress, had proposed Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s name for the job. A total of 373 members of the legislature parliament voted in his favour while 210 said no to the move.
Manarishi Dhital, a Sydney-based Nepalese journalist, says Mr Dahal has both “huge challenge and great opportunity” and expressed confidence that he will be a successful prime minister. Because he is experienced in parliamentary democracy this time, Prachanda is poised to regain his “political height” that has been on the wane since 2009, journalist Dhital said.
“If he address the victims of civil war, last year’s earthquake and of various other movements then he will certainly be successful,” Mr Dhital said. He further added that the new prime minister must complete the peace process and also address the movements of the Madeshi and janajaati (indigenous) people.
“Implementation of new constitution and creating a conducive environment for fresh elections must be his main agenda,” Mr Dhital, who has been observing Nepal’s communist movement for well over two decades, further said.