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Prachanda is the most powerful man in Nepal

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 29, 2008 01:00 IST
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After leading a decade-long armed struggle to dislodge the 240-year-old monarchy, Maoist chief Prachanda on Wednesday became the most powerful person in Nepal, who is set to head its next government after fulfilling his ambition of transforming the country into a republic.

With declaration of Nepal as a republic and abolishing the monarchy by the first meeting of Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, a new dawn has begun for the country to be led by the 53-year-old former rebel, who is now in his strongest position to rebuild the impoverished Himalayan country.

Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, led his party to a stunning victory in last month's Constituent Assembly polls where his party Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist bagged 220 seats in the 601-seat Constituent Assembly to emerge as the largest party.

Born on December 11, 1954, in the Annapurna region of Nepal, Prachanda spent much of his childhood in the Chitwan district and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Rampur.

Prachanda became general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal) in 1986. This party, after a number of permutations became the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.

He led a bloody 10-year agitation, which was launched in 1996, against the monarchy in which more than 13,000 people have been killed.

Until recently, very little was known about Prachanda, who has three daughters and a son. The rebel leader was rarely seen in public during the violent agitation.

The Maoists participated in the country's first parliamentary elections in 1991. But, they said, their disenchantment with political squabbling and anger at the plight of the rural poor prompted them to take up arms. 

When Prachanda launched the armed rebellion, Nepal had just restored multi-party democracy after 30 years of direct rule by the king.

During the armed struggle, the Maoists have used threats, extortion and killings to get their way.

They had killed poor, innocent people and those who criticised their top leaders.

Prachanda and others have defended these tactics, arguing that during war such incidents do occur and that they regret mistakes.

Prachanda met for talks with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on June 16, 2006, in what was considered to be his first visit to the capital Kathmandu in more than a decade.

The subsequent peace process resulted in an agreement to dissolve Parliament, incorporate the CPN-M into a new interim government, draft a new constitution, and disband the CPN-M's "people's governments" operating in rural Nepal.

The two sides also agreed to disarm at a later date, under international supervision.

On September 18, 2007, the CPN-M pulled themselves out of the coalition government ahead of the Constituent Assembly election, demanding the declaration of a republic by Parliament and a system of proportional representation in the election.

The CPN-M rejoined the government on December 30, 2007, after an agreement to abolish the monarchy following the election and to have a system of partial proportional representation in the election.

In the April 2008 Constituent Assembly election, Prachanda was elected from Kathmandu constituency-10, winning by a large margin and receiving nearly twice as many votes as his nearest rival from the Nepali Congress.

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