Puspa Kamal Dahal
Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Assumed office
Preceded by Position created
Prime Minister of Nepal
In office
18 August 2008 – 25 May 2009
President Ram Baran Yadav
Preceded by Girija Prasad Koirala
Succeeded by Madhav Kumar Nepal
Personal details
Born 11 December 1954 (1954-12-11) (age 56)
Kaski, Nepal
Political party Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Residence Kathmandu, Nepal
Religion none (Atheist)

Puspa Kamal Dahal (Nepali: पुष्पकमल दाहाल [1]); born Chhabilal Dahal on 11 December 1954, also known as Prachanda (Nepali: प्रचण्ड [pɾətsəɳɖə] is a former guerrilla leader and chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Prachanda led CPN (M) as it launched an insurgency on 13 February 1996. In 2008 the ensuing civil war culminated in the overthrow of the Shah dynasty in favor of a communist. More than 15,000 Nepalese died in this conflict.[2]

The Constituent Assembly elected Prachanda Prime Minister of Nepal on 16 August 2008.[3] He was sworn in as Prime Minister on 18 August 2008.[4] Prachanda resigned from the post on 4 May 2009 after his attempt to sack General Rookmangud Katawal, the army chief, was opposed by President Ram Baran Yadav.[5] Prachanda remained in office until 23 May 2009 when his successor was elected.[6]


Personal life and early career

Prachanda was born in Dhikur Pokhari, a village in Kaski District,[7] some 140 kilometres (87 mi) west of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.[8][9][10] Prachanda spent much of his childhood in Chitwan district. He is from a landlord family. 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.[11] Prachanda's brother – Dr. Ganga Ram Dahal – graduated from the University of Reading, UK and is currently a Research Scientist at Rights to Resources International based in Bangkok.

Witnessing severe poverty among Nepalis since his youth, Prachanda was drawn to leftist political parties. He joined the underground Communist Party of Nepal (Fourth Convention) in 1981.[12] He became general secretary (party leader) of the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal) in 1989. After several permutations this party became the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Prachanda 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 Baburam Bhattarai represented United People's Front in parliament. A biography written by Anirban Roy, the ex-Nepal correspondent of the Hindustan Times covers Prachanda's 25 years living underground[13] and has been translated into Nepali as Prachanda: Ek Agyat Bidhrohi. Anirban Roy's book is also getting translated in Hindi and Assamese. Since 1996 Prachanda has been internationally known as the leader of CPN (M), presiding over its military and political wings.

Maoist insurrection

Communism in Nepal
South Asian Communist Banner.svg
Prachanda speaking at a rally in Pokhara.

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" (referring here to the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship), and "land under the control of the feudal system should be confiscated and distributed to the landless and the homeless."[14] 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.[15]

Relation with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

In late 2004 or early 2005, relations between Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai soured.[16] 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.[17] They later reconciled at least some of their differences.[18][19]

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 rejected 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 would not accept a people’s republic immediately. The majority of the other senior leaders had rejected 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 were pursuing was a wrong one. Immediately Dr. Bhattarai was released from 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 to 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 was not given a second position in the government by Comrade Prachanda. But it seems settled after Dr. Bhattarai agreed this decision by Chairman Prachanda.

Recently the relation between the two Maoist leaders came into media when Prachanda blamed India for supporting Bhattarai as future prime minister and for trying to use him to create a struggle inside the party. Bhattarai claimed that this issue came into existence with the master plan of deteriorating his reputation among the masses. These days Prachanda seems relatively closer with Kiran, another prominent Maoist leader. But the row came to an end when Prachanda clarified that it was just a tactical game played against India.

Twelve point agreement

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.[20]


Several ceasefires have occurred over the course of the Nepalese civil war.[21] 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.[22]

Public appearance

In the first week of May 2006, Maoist chairman Prachanda along with another senior leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai [23] entered Nepal through Birgunj after presiding over a Maoist meet in Punjab, India. After then, they attended various programs organized by the party in different places. Prachanda refused to make a public appearance before there was a political settlement with the seven-party alliance. The Maoists were rigid on their demands that the monarchy is to be abolished rather than just stripped off its powers. The Maoists looked every activity of the new government with suspicion. Before this, it had immediately released a press statement that the king’s narration for reinstating the parliament was a betrayal to the people.

Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara claimed that there was a secret agreement between the seven party alliance and the king on April 24 where they ensured the king to retain monarchy in any form in the future. On June 6, 2006, then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala went to India for a four day visit seeking support from India for Nepal’s recent political development. Maoist chairman insisted not to ask any economic assistance without resolving the political disputes within the country and demanded that the Maoist prisoners be released soon who were languished in Indian jails.

After the return of then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to Nepal, he insisted having talks with Prachanda and Baburam directly at the high level. But Chairman Prachanda and the other senior leader refused Koirala’s aspiration. They didn’t show any willingness to arrive at Kathmandu. The then home minister Krishna Sitaula says, ‘After repeated persuasion, Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai finally agreed. But before their public appearance, there was a lot more to do. So I flew in a helicopter without my security guards to meet them.’

On morning, June 14, Sitaula flew in a private helicopter to Siklis, a mountainous village in Kaski district. When Sitaula reached there, the CPN Maoist was planning for a mass meeting in the village. He finalized their arriving at Kathmandu after having a four hour long talks with the senior leaders. On June 16, Sitaula flew to Pokhara to receive Prachanda and Bhattarai. Maoist chairman Prachanda along with his wife and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai were taken to the Prime Minister’s residence in a car bearing a fluttering flag. Maoist chairman Prachanda says, ‘That day, the first day I appeared in public in Kathmandu, I wore a light blue suit. I like light blue color the most.’ It was a turning point in Prachanda’s life after 25 years of underground life and after a prolonged people’s war for 10 years.

There was an eight point understanding between the government and the Maoist rebels. After having talk with the Prime Minister, Prachanda speaking to the media said that the peace talks was back on progress besides the setback at past. The public appearance of the rebel leader created a sensation in Nepal. The Maoist chief claimed that the understanding would give a new political direction to Nepal. Stating that the deal was ‘a historical one’, Prachanda said that Nepal would soon be transformed into a republic after CA elections. He was the first prime minister of Nepal after the monarchy system was abolished.

Interim government

Prachanda met for talks with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on 16 June 2006, which was thought to be his first visit to the capital Kathmandu in more than a decade.[24][25] This meeting resulted in the Comprehensive Peace Accord 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.[26] On 18 September 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 30 December 2007 after an agreement to abolish the monarchy following the election and to have a system of partial proportional representation in the election.[27]

During the February 3, 2011 election of Prime Minister, he had filed candidacy on behalf of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), but later withdrew his candidacy supporting CPN-UML Prime Ministerial candidate, Jhalanath Khanal. By his support, Mr. Khanal elected as new prime minister that replaced Khanal's party predecessor Madhav Kumar Nepal led caretaker government of more than six months.

The path to power

The decade-long war ultimately led the Maoists to Nepal’s parliament. After winning a remarkable majority in the Constitutional Assembly elections, Prachanda was nominated for the Prime Ministership by the party[28] In the April 2008 Constituent Assembly election, he was elected from Kathmandu constituency-10, winning by a large margin and receiving nearly twice as many votes as his nearest rival, the candidate of the Nepali Congress. He also won overwhelmingly in Rolpa constituency-2, receiving 34,230 votes against 6,029 for Shanta Kumar Oli of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN (UML)).[29] With the CPN(M) appearing to have won the election, Prachanda pledged that the party would work together with other parties in crafting the new constitution, and he assured the international community, particularly India and China, that the party wanted good relations and cooperation. He also said that the party had expressed its commitment to multi-party democracy through the election.[30]

Following power-sharing discussions that lasted several months, Prachanda was elected as Prime Minister by the Constituent Assembly on 15 August 2008 and he was sworn as a Prime Minister on 18 August 2008.

Fall from power

Prachanda resigned from the post of Prime Minister on 4 May 2009 after his move to sack the Nepalese Chief of the Army Staffs Rookmangud Katawal was opposed by President Ram Baran Yadav.[5]


  1. ^ From Chhabilal to Pushpa Kamal to Prachanda (Profile) – Thaindian News. Retrieved on 2011-09-03.
  2. ^ "Maoist Leader Becomes Nepalese PM," BBC, 15 August 2008
  3. ^ "Ex-rebels' chief chosen as Nepal's new PM", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 15, 2008.
  4. ^ "PM Dahal sworn in", Nepalnews, August 18, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Nepal PM quits in army chief row". BBC News. 4-5-2009. Retrieved 4-5-2009. 
  6. ^ AFP: Nepal parliament elects new PM. (2009-05-23). Retrieved on 2011-09-03.
  7. ^ "Profile: Prachanda, from commander to prime minister.", 15 August 2008
  8. ^ Nepali PM Prachanda Sworn In. Retrieved on 2011-09-03.
  9. ^ It will be nostalgia time for Prachanda in 13 September 2008
  10. ^ Prachanda’s family calls. Nepali Times. Retrieved on 2011-09-03.
  11. ^ Somini Sengupta, and he was also a high school teacher in Aarught of Gorkha district."Where Maoists Still Matter," New York Times, 30 October 2005
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ Anirban Roy (2008) Prachanda: The Unknown Revolutionary. (Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point).
  14. ^ Baburam Bhattarai, "40 Point Demand", South Asia Intelligence Review, 4 February 1996
  15. ^ "Maoists Demand Interim Constitution," Kathmandu Post, 28 April 2003
  16. ^ Singh Khadka, "Nepal's Maoist leadership divisions," BBC, 6 May 2005
  17. ^ "Official expelled from Maoist party". Television New Zealand. 15 March 2005. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  18. ^ Charles Haviland, "Meeting Nepal's Maoist leader", BBC, 16 June 2005
  19. ^ Sanjay Upadhya, Nepal: Maoists hide More Than They Reveal", Scoop, 16 February 2005
  20. ^ Unofficial translation, "The 12-point agreement between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance as listed in statement by Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday," Nepal News, 25 November 2005
  21. ^ Kamala Sarup (ed.), "Maoists declare three-month long ceasefire," Peace Journalism/Nepal News, 3 September 2005
  22. ^ "Nepal Maoist rebels declare truce," BBC, 27 April 2006
  23. ^ "Profile: Prachanda, from commander to prime minister.", 15 August 2008
  24. ^ "Maoists to join Nepal government," BBC, 16 June 2006
  25. ^ "Power Play," Times of India Online 3 November 2001
  26. ^ Maseeh Rahman, "After a decade of fighting, Nepal's Maoist rebels embrace government," The Guardian, 17 June 2006
  27. ^ "Nepal Maoists rejoin cabinet after monarchy deal," Reuters, 30 December 2007
  28. ^ "Nepal Maoists want their chief as president", Reuters (AlertNet), 25 January 2008.
  29. ^ "Prachanda wins from Rolpa-2 as well", Nepalnews, 13 April 2008.
  30. ^ ""We want to continue working with parties and the int'l community," says Prachanda", Nepalnews, 12 April 2008.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Girija Prasad Koirala
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Madhav Kumar Nepal
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mohan Vaidya
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal)
Succeeded by
Narayan Kaji Shrestha
(Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre))
Preceded by
Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
1994 – present
Succeeded by

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