Having remained indifferent to politics for a while now, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, the founding member of the Nepali Congress, recently broke his vow of silence.
Bhattarai came out of his cocoon unexpectedly last week and met King Gyanendra. Bhattarai said he expressed his dissatisfaction about the October Fourth move to the monarch, and the king reassured him of his commitment to restore democracy. Bhattarai quoted the king as saying, "I don't want to be blacklisted in history as the king who usurped people's rights." Bhattarai, however, chose not to comment on the ongoing agitation spearheaded by the five parties of the dissolved parliament. He did urge the Maoist rebels to stop the violence, adding that he believed they would abandon that road. The elderly politician, still has a sharp sense of humour, and has not given up his trips to New Road to indulge in a well-made paan and buying Indian newspapers. Amita Kapali, his personal aide, jokingly complains that her charge is more regular with those trips than the physiotherapy.
The septuagenarian centrist leader said his knowledge of current affairs is up-to-date thanks to all the national dailies and the Times of India. Bhattarai is currently putting finishing touches to his autobiography, culled from material taken from his diaries. He is a prolific writer and says the old journals came in handy for cross-referencing dates. Those that were confiscated by Indian and Nepali authorities in the 1950s haven't been given back to him. "I have requested the return of my diaries several times, but they have not done so," he said.