Life Journey of Prachanda: From Militant Guerrilla to Prime Minister

A shrewd and famous political player capable of staying always in central power

Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Such a great political player who succeeds from a guerrilla leader to the Prime Minister of Nepal. Here, we will delve into the life journey of Prachanda and his significant achievements.

While this article is being written, Prachanda is serving as Prime Minister of Nepal for the third time.

Biography of Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda)

Early Life and Education

Prachanda was born on December 11, 1954, the eldest son of father Muktiram Dahal and mother Bhawani, in Levade village of Dhikurpokhari in Kaski district.

Prachand’s childhood name was Ghanshyam Dahal, but he changed his name to Pushpa Kamal Dahal while filling out the matriculation form.

During the guerilla warfare, Prachanda adopted various nicknames such as Kalyan, Biswas, Nirman, and Prachanda. However, Pushpa Kamal Dahal established his favourite name as an identity even after his political success.

Prachanda has completed his master’s degree in public administration. He also graduated in agriculture from Rampur Agriculture Campus in Chitwan, Nepal.

Political Life:

Prachanda’s journey took a radical turn when he founded the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 1994. Under his leadership, the Maoists waged a guerrilla war against the government, advocating for social justice, land reforms, and an end to the monarchy.

Their insurgency ultimately led to the abolishment of Nepal’s monarchy and the establishment of a democratic republic. Ultimately, the Maoist movement ended, and Maoist party leader (Chairman) Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) became the Prime Minister of Nepal.

Currently (June 2024), Prachanda is the Prime Minister of Nepal as well as the Chairman of the Communist Party (Maoist Center) and a member of the House of Representatives elected from Gorkha District Parliamentary Constituency No. 2.

Family life:

In 1983, Prachanda married Sita Paudel, who sadly died on 12 July 2023. The couple gave birth to four children during their marriage – Gyanu Dahal KC, Renu Dahal, Ganga Dahal, and Prakash Dahal.

But Prachand also lost his only son, Prakash Dahal, unexpectedly and painfully some years ago.

Hobby:

Apart from his political engagement, Prachanda is passionate about various activities, including reading, writing, sports, music, and cycling.

Prachanda is also a left-wing writer

He has authored several books such as Nepali Krantiyako Samsya (Problems of the Nepali Revolution, Volumes 1-4), Prachanda’s Selected Articles Volumes 1 and 2, Sanskrit, Art and Aesthetic Thought (a).

Reflections on Culture, Art, and Aesthetics, First Decade of the Republic (First Decade of the Republic), Nayan Rajnithik Bislesan (New Political Analysis), Nayan Yuga Padachap (Footprint of the New Era) etc.

Maoists YCL Rally” by izahorsky is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Prachanda’s role in the establishment of the Republic with the harsh war, violence, and destruction

Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ was born near Pokhara, but because he migrated from there, he spent his childhood in the Chitwan district.

He did his Diploma in Agriculture from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) at Rampur, Chitwan.
After that, he also completed his master’s degree. But despite completing his studies, he was unemployed and was fed up with the then Nepal’s reality.

Prachanda’s rebellious sentiment:

Prachanda used to get frustrated seeing the extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy, backwardness, and unemployment in his country, Nepal. That situation created a revolt against him.

He thought that even though Nepal is a naturally rich country, the main reasons it was the world’s poorest were its autocratic monarchy, feudal social culture, and archaic economic system.

Also, he thought that radical political change in Nepal was necessary to make the country prosperous by stopping all such political distortions.

But to bring radical change in the country, Comrade Prachand decided that the only option is people’s revolt.

His party concluded that state power is everything to people; if it is not in people’s hands, there is nothing to say on their own.

Prachanda’s party also submitted a political demand letter to the then-parliamentary monarchical government for the fundamental change of the country.

However, the then-Nepal government could not fulfil the high political demand of Maoists.

Declaration of Maoist mass revolt:

So finally, on February 15, 1996, Prachand’s party started an armed people’s war. In the Harsh war that lasted for 12 years, more than 16 thousand people lost their lives, including the Nepali government army, the Maoist army, and civilians.

With the declaration of the stated people’s war (Jana Yuddha), all the leaders, workers, and guerrillas of that party went underground. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Prachanda, and Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’ led and operated their revolt staying in the central bureau.

On the other hand, the government of Nepal had also put a price on the head of the Maoist leader. In other words, an immediate reward of 10 lakh Nepali rupees was also announced for anyone who could reveal the head of Prachand or a central leader like him, whether alive or dead.

The country was in a deplorable condition due to the war. The people were forced to live in turmoil and chaos. There was no way to say which person would be killed by whom and when.

In the people’s war that continued for 12 years, many army camps, police barracks, government offices, telephone towers, and other structures in Nepal were destroyed.

Nepal’s police chief and many high-ranking government officials and religious leaders were also killed.

Similarly, many Nepali people were disabled, many had to lose their property, and some had to migrate or even go abroad.

Thus, the people’s war for over a decade brought the country’s economy to a critical state. Poverty increased. Nepalese people were not able to walk freely. People had to live a harrowing life due to unrest, fear, pain, and poverty.

Maoists YCL Rally” by izahorsky is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Second People’s Movement and the Maoist Rebellion ended the monarchy and established the republic

With time, the repeated talks between the government of Nepal and the Maoist rebels came to an end with an agreement.

After that, other major parties in Nepal, such as the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, also agreed on the political agenda of the Maoist republic.

Thus, after all the parties agreed on the Maoist agenda of the Republic, all the parties joined together and started a peaceful people’s movement, also known as the People’s Movement of Bikram era 2061/62 or Second People’s Movement.

The first people’s movement was performed to overthrow the panchayat system in BS 2046. At that time, all the parties stayed together and started the people’s movement. As a result, Nepal’s Panchayat autocratic monarchy improved to a parliamentary monarchy.

In this way, the monarchy could not cope with the vast mass second movement of the country that lasted for about a month, and finally, it was agreed to end the monarchy and go to the Republic of Nepal.

After that, two elections of the Constituent Assembly were held. And a new constitution was issued, taking a long discussion up to almost 12 years. As per this historical constitution, Nepal has become a federal democratic republic country.

In this way, after entering politics as a Maoist guerilla leader, after living a long people’s war and dangerous underground life, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachand’ also succeeded in becoming the elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Nepal.

Prachanda’s political and organizational career


Prachanda’s political career began in 1972 when he became a member of the Pushpalal Group of the Nepal Communist Party. Later, in 1975, Prachanda established a Marxist study group along with Badal, Mitra Dawadi, Khem Bhandari, and Pushpa Bhurtel.

In 1978, he joined the Nepal Communist Party (4th Congress) and, in 1980, was elected as a member of the Chitwan District Committee of the party.

In addition to being a member of the Regional Bureau in 1982, Prachanda was elected as the General Secretary of the Akhil Nepal Yuva Sangh (Youth Organization). The President of the youth organization in 1984.

The fifth congress of CPN Mashal in 1985 elected Prachanda as a central member. He later became a party’s polite bureau member and general secretary in 1990.

Prachanda led the Maoist rebellion as the central leader:

In 1992, Prachanda became the General Secretary of CPN Ekta Kendra (United Centre), and that party turned into CPN-Maoist. In February 1996, the Maoist People’s War was launched, where Comred Prachanda played a decisive central role.

Prachanda led the People’s War as General Secretary and later Party President and became the supreme commander of the People’s Liberation Army of CPN-Maoist.

Prachanda’s three-decade secret political life was made public in June 2006 due to the victorious mass movement of April 2006. Seven political parties, including CPN-Maoist, operated that historical mass movement.

After that, Prachanda and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala signed a comprehensive peace agreement on 21 November 2006, ending the decade-long Maoist civil war.

The peace agreement ended the monarchy and declared Nepal a federal democratic republic in 2008 through the Constituent Assembly.

To whom go credit for the establishment of the republic in Nepal?

However, the end of the monarchy in Nepal was achieved through the people’s movement led by the 7-party coalition, which included the Maoists, and a democratic republic was established.

But special credit for the establishment of the Republic is given to Maoists because, first of all, the agenda of the Republic is the agenda raised by Maoists. Other parties later came up with an agreement.

Secondly, before the mass movement part 2, the Maoists waged a people’s war to establish a republic in Nepal for ten years. They also made many martyrdoms and sacrifices in the war.

At the time, while Maoists were playing with fire and bombs to establish a republic in Nepal, being starved, other parties were licking the honey of regn power at the capital’s Palaces.

That is why, if the credit of the republic is not given to the Maoist movement, then it will be an incomplete analysis or unjust judgment.

So, one can say that Maoists built a building of a republic in Nepal and at last, all parties stayed together and opened the door of the republic building.

 Maoist central leaders: From left to right: CP Gajurel, Baburam BhattaraiPushpa Kamal DahalMohan BaidyaNarayan Kaji Shrestha *Photo By Krish Dulal -wikipedia

Prachanda’s Major achievements and prime minister tenures

Prachanda’s achievements can be seen as playing an important role in political stability, strengthening democracy, and the overall development of Nepal. Although he spent a long time underground, experiencing violence, destruction, and sorrow, he also achieved extraordinary political success in life which are as follows:

  • First Premiership (2008–2009): Prachanda was elected as the Prime Minister of Nepal on August 18, 2008, after the unified Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) emerged as the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly elections. He served his first term until May 25, 2009.
  • Incomparable role in making the democratic constitution of Nepal: Prachanda’s leadership and role in the process of drafting the new constitution of Nepal, which was released in September 2015, was important.
  • This constitution established Nepal as a federal democratic republic and laid the foundation for a secular, inclusive, and federal system of governance.
  • The new constitution enshrines the principles of social justice, human rights, and equality, and it recognizes the rights and representation of various marginalized communities, including ethnic minorities, women, and Dalits.
  • Second Premiership (2016–2017): Prachanda was elected as Prime Minister for a second term on August 4, 2016, and held office until September 15, 2017. His second term was necessary as the government successfully completed local elections for the first time after the new constitution and laid the foundations of federalism.
  • Other vital achievements achieved during the 10-month tenure of the democratic republic in the country include the implementation of the new constitution, ending load shedding (power cuts), and achieving economic growth above 7 per cent.
  • Executive chairman of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP): On May 17, 2018, Prachanda became the executive chairman of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), formed by the merger of the CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Center).
  • Chairman of CPN (Maoist Center): After the decision of the Supreme Court on March 7, 2021, the unity of both the communist parties was cancelled. After that, Prachanda continued to work as the Chairman of CPN (Maoist Center). In January 2022, he was re-elected as party chairman at the Eighth Congress of the CPN (Maoist Centre).
  • Third Premiership (2022–Currently serving): Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ took charge of the post of Prime Minister for the third time on December 26, 2022. After being supported by almost all political parties, he was supposed to receive a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives on January 10, 2023. Among the 270 members of the current House, Prachanda received a historic 268 votes.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi greeted Prime Minister of Nepal, H.E. Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ at Hyderabad House in New Delhi” by MEAphotogallery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Prachand’s Personal Legacy: Criticism and Appreciation

However, the violent Maoist movement led by Prachand is viewed from both negative and positive perspectives. Thousands of Nepalis lost their lives in that disaster, and a lot of people’s wealth was also destroyed.

But the achievements of this people’s war with Nepal and the people of Nepal are not less.

Without the Maoist people’s war, it was unknown how many years Nepal’s archaic monarchy and feudalistic social system would have remained in Nepal. Therefore, it is considered that Prachanda or his party’s sacrifice was behind the establishment of the republic in Nepal.

Nepalis and foreigners have also appreciated the contribution made by Maoism to eliminate the Social distortions, inequality, caste and gender discrimination, corruption, superstition, and biased justice system that has been in Nepal for centuries.

Even after Prachand reached the highest position of power and politics, he suddenly lost his only son in one night. Because of that son, his wife Sita Dahal died mentally disturbed for many years.

But Prachand was never been disturbed even though he had to lose the main character of his family one after the other. Nor did he talk about political retirement in this separation and Bereavement. Rather, he said that I would work till the end of my life for this country to realize the dream of people’s war, revolution, and martyrdom.

Even though Prachand has reached this position by doing Maoist violent politics, he never performs violent cruelty, arrogance, frenzy, and anger in interaction with anyone.

Rather, he presents a leader’s behaviour, such as being calm and patient, having a revolutionary spirit in development, and showing flexibility in everything.

Conclusion:

Overall, Prachanda is not just an ordinary leader established by violent politics. His sacrifice for the country and dedication of his entire life to the politics of Nepal confirm that he is a true nationalist and visionary leader of radical change.

The history of a country rarely gives birth to such a leader like Prachanda; only 2/4 of the leaders in a century usually have been born as politicians with such unprecedented abilities.

It cannot be said whether Nepal will produce leaders with radical revolutionary ideas like Prachanda in the future or not. But, certainly, the Political life journey of Prachanda as a revolutionary, courageous, and sacrificial nationalist leader will be written in golden letters in Nepali history.

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