Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda
Prachanda (Nepali: प्रचण्ड, pronounced [pɾətsəɳɖə]; born Chhabilal Dahal on 11 December 1954, later Pushpa Kamal Dahal) is a Nepalese politician. He was the Prime Minister of Nepal from 18 August 2008, to 25 May 2009. A communist revolutionary, politician, and former guerrilla leader, he is the Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—the largest political party in Nepal, according to the results of the 2008 election. Under his leadership, the CPN (M) launched the Nepalese Civil War on 13 February 1996, in which about 13,000 people died in fighting between the party and the government.
Prachanda’s extension of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to take specific account of Nepal’s situation is known as the Prachanda Path. “Prachanda” is a party name along the lines of “Lenin” and “Hồ Chí Minh”. “Prachanda” literally means “fierce one”.
The Constituent Assembly elected Prachanda as Prime Minister on 15 August 2008. He was sworn in as Prime Minister on 18 August 2008. Prachanda resigned from the post on 4 May 2009 after his move to sack General Rookmangud Katawal, the army chief, was opposed by President Ram Baran Yadav. He remained in office until 23 May 2009, when his successor was elected.
Personal life and early career
Prachanda was born in Dhikure Pokhari, a in the Kaski District, some 140 kilometres (87 mi) west of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. Prachanda spent much of his childhood in the Chitwan district. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSc-Ag) from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) in Rampur, Chitwan, and was once employed at a rural development project sponsored by USAID, the project site being Jajarkot.
Moved by witnessing severe poverty among Nepalis, he has said, Prachanda was drawn to leftist political parties in his youth. In 1981 he joined the underground Communist Party of Nepal (Fourth Convention). He became general secretary (party leader) of the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal) in 1989. After a number of permutations, this party became the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). He lived underground even after the restoration of democracy in 1990. Until then a little-known figure, he controlled the clandestine wing of the party, while the parliamentary representation in the United People’s Front was headed by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. Since 1996, Prachanda has become internationally known as the leader of CPN (M), presiding over its military and political wings. The first biography on Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister, Prachanda: The Unknown Revolutionary, has been written by Indian journalist Anirban Roy, the Nepal correspondent of the Hindustan Times. Published by Mandala Book Point, Kathmandu, the book was released on September 19, 2008 by Chairman of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, Subhas Nembwang. The book has brought to fore Prachanda’s 25-year-long underground life. The best-selling book is the result of talks with nearly 200 people who know the Maoist leader closely, ranging from his father, wife and children to comrades and politicians. The book has also been translated in Nepali—Prachanda: Ek Agyat Bidhrohi.
Communism in Nepal
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On 4 February 1996, Bhattarai gave the government, led by Nepali Congress Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, a list of 40 demands, threatening civil war if they were not met. The demands related to “nationalism, democracy and livelihood” and included such line items as the “domination of foreign capital in Nepali industries, business and finance should be stopped”, and “discriminatory treaties, including the 1950 Nepal-India Treaty, should be abrogated”, and “land under the control of the feudal system should be confiscated and distributed to the landless and the homeless.” After that, and until 26 April 2006, Prachanda directed the military efforts of the CPN (M) towards establishing areas of control, particularly in the mountainous regions and western Nepal.
The 40 demands were whittled down to 24 in subsequent political negotiations.
Relation with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
In late 2004 or early 2005, relations between Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai soured. This was reportedly due to disagreement on power sharing inside the party. Bhattarai was unhappy with the consolidation of power under Prachanda. At one point Prachanda expelled Bhattarai from the party, though he was later reinstated. They later reconciled at least some of their differences.
CPN (Maoist), after the king’s direct exercise over the government on 1 February 2005, met with serious discussion over the future policy of the party. Until then, Comrade Prachanda, Comrade Kiran and others were convinced that they would be able to rise to power having dialogue with the king’s government. Senior leader Dr. Bhattarai refused this idea of the party since it came into discussion in the party. He insisted joining hands with other parties of the ‘mainstream’ politics. He put the view of working together with other parties to abolish monarchy in the nation and stressed that it is high time to work with other parties to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic. He stated that the party should move ahead with a strategy of democratic republic and multiparty system for a time being as the other parties wouldn’t accept a people’s republic immediately. The majority of the other senior leaders had refused his opinion in the beginning including Chairman Prachanda and had made a decision to work together with the king.
Dr. Bhattarai including his supporters were punished and suspended for putting a view against the party decision. But after the King’s proclamation on 1 February 2005, the party realized that the policy they acquainted with was a wrong one. Immediately Dr. Bhattarai was released off his punishment and in a meeting held at Chunbang (a village in Rolpa), the party held discussion of Bhattarai’s idea. After which the party came forward with a strategy of democratic republic rather than a people’s republic. Dr. Bhattarai’s work-strategy has worked out till date, which put forward the party as a major key holder of the nation’s politics. Chairman Prachanda and Dr. Bhattarai seem at one side keeping some disagreement with the work strategy with the other senior leader Mohan Vaidya alias Kiran. The two leaders agree strengthening the newly established democratic republic rather than implementing a people’s republic immediately. They agree realizing the upcoming years, a ‘decade of economic revolution’ and changing the country’s economic profile. The relationship came to a twist when Dr. Bhattarai wasn’t given a second position in the government by Comrade Prachanda. But it seems settled after Dr. Bhattarai agreed this decision by Chairman Prachanda.
Twelve point agreement
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On 22 November 2005, Prachanda and the Seven Party Alliance released a “twelve-point agreement” that expressed areas of agreement between the CPN(M) and the parties that won a large majority in the last parliamentary election in 1999. Among other points, this document stated that a dictatorial monarchy of King Gyanendra is the chief impediment to progress in Nepal. It claimed further that the Maoists are committed to human rights and press freedoms and a multi-party system of government. It pledged self-criticism and the intention of the Maoists and the Seven Parties to not repeat past mistakes.
Several ceasefires have occurred over the course of the Nepalese civil war. Most recently, on 26 April 2006, Prachanda announced a ceasefire with a stated duration of 90 days. The move followed weeks of massive protests—the April 2006 Nepalese general strike— in Kathmandu and elsewhere that had forced King Gyanendra to give up the personal dictatorship he had established on the February 1, 2005, and restore the parliament that was dissolved in May 2002.
After that a new government was established by the Seven-Party Alliance. The parliament and the new government supported the ceasefire and started negotiations with the Maoists on the basis of the twelve-point agreement. The two sides agreed that a new constituent assembly will be elected to write a new constitution, and decide on the fate of monarchy. The Maoists want this process to end with Nepal becoming a republic.