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It will be nostalgia time for Prachanda in India
Saturday, September 13, 2008 18:08 [IST]

Kathmandu:When Nepals Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda begins his first official visit to India on Sunday, it will be a homecoming of sorts, full of the memories of the days he spent incognito in this country off and on during the decade-long "Peoples War" he led from the front.

"Prachanda is very fond of visiting India. He is looking forward to his first official visit to India," Anirban Roy, who has authored a biography of the charismatic leader entitled "Prachanda: The Unknown Revolutionary", said.

Travelling incognito when the Maoists were banned as a terrorist organisation in both Nepal and India, Prachanda had also visited Goa and West Bengal, says the biography.

The book reveals various facets of a former guerrilla leader who defied pollsters to emerge as the first prime minister of the Federal Republic of Nepal

"He spent several years during the Maoists 10-year Peoples War in India, mostly New Delhi, and he probably feels nostalgic about it," the author said.

Roys book has rare photographs showing Prachanda with his wife Sita and son Prakash gazing at the Taj hotel in Mumbai as tourists. Incidentally, it will be at the Taj in New Delhi that the former revolutionary will be staying.

It will be his second known visit to India - the first trip was in November 2006 when the Maoists signed a peace pact and he had been invited to New Delhi to attend a leadership summit.

A return to Delhi Sunday would, therefore, be also a journey down memory lane for the Maoist supremo.

However, Prachanda has dismissed Nepals fears that he would be swayed by the memories into making undue concessions to India. "I firmly believe India showed good will in dismissing its two-pillar theory (of constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy in Nepal) and supporting the constituent assembly election," he said here.

"India should now rise to a greater height to address Nepals aspirations."

It will be Prachandas first interaction with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders like Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani.

"Prachanda is young and dynamic and has established himself as the leader of a democratic republic," Roy said. "The interactions will definitely help India understand Nepal better."

The India visit will start the diplomatic career of the 54-year-old former school teacher, who was born in a paddy field in Dhikurpokhari village in central Kaski district to poor farmer parents.

The oldest of eight siblings, he was born Chhabilal Dahal. However, while studying in the Mahendta Primary School - named after the then king - a teacher praised his cherubic looks and rechristened him Pushpa Kamal - meaning as radiant as the lotus.

He loved the name and adopted it. In the 90s, when his party was preparing to start an armed revolt, he came close to adopting the war name Gaurav but then was given the name Prachanda.

Though the Peoples War ended in 2006,Prachanda refused to relinquish his nom de guerre, loving its connotation of valour. It was the name he used when he took oath of office as republican Nepals first prime minister on Aug 18.

After studying agriculture, Prachanda taught in two schools before joining the communist movement. He went underground in 1980 and after several changes in the communist movement, founded the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) which began a guerrilla war in 1996 despite its modest success in a parliamentary election.

Over 13,000 people were killed during the insurgency and Prachanda, asked if he did not feel his hands were stained with blood, admitted he regretted the deaths but it was a cruel necessity. He blamed the feudal system and Nepals powerful royal family for triggering the armed movement.

Despite starting out as a rag-tag party, the Maoists accomplished their goal of abolishing Nepals 239-year-old monarchy and forced King Gyanendra to vacate the royal palace.

 


Source : DNA

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