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The rise of Deuba

Monday, March 7th, 2016
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Sher Bahadur Deuba before the second round of voting in Kathmandu on Monday. Photo: RSS

For the first time in its 70-year-long history, the Nepali Congress, dominated by the Koiralas, has chosen an anti-establishment leader as its President.

Sher Bahadur Deuba, a Chhetri from the far-western hills, has put an end to the long reign of the Koiralas, a hill-Brahmin clan, over Nepal’s oldest political party.

The NC was originally formed by Tanka Prasad Acharya and BP Koirala in 1947. Koirala, regarded as a charismatic leader and a visionary thinker, nurtured and shaped the NC while fighting for democracy. After his demise in 1982, the party was led by his brother, Girija Prasad Koirala, and then cousin, Sushil Koirala.

Since the Nepali National Congress was renamed as the Nepali Congress following unification with the Nepali Democratic Congress in 1950, the NC has been led by non-Koiralas only twice. Subarna Shumshere in 1956 and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in 1992 became NC President, but both were supported by the Koiralas.

Deuba has won the NC presidency without the backing of the Koirala family, and seems to have ended the dynasty’s rule for at least a few years.

Deuba, 69, defeated Ram Chandra Poudel, the NC establishment candidate for the presidency, by a comfortable margin in the second round of Monday’s election in Kathmandu. He received 1822 votes as against Poudel’s 1296 votes. Krishna Sitaula, a third candidate, was thrown out of the race in the first round.

Despite the support from the Koiralas and influential leaders like Ram Sharan Mahat, Prakash Man Singh, Mahesh Acharya and Minendra Rijal, Poudel squandered what was probably his last chance to become the NC President.

Deuba began his political career as one of the founding members of the NC’s student wing in the 1970s, but he quickly rose as a prominent leader largely due to his closeness with the Koiralas.

Deuba was only 49 when he became Nepal’s Prime Minister for the first time, but his tenure as the PM is mostly remembered because of the start of the war. In 2001, he became the PM again only to allow the king to dissolve parliament. He was later dismissed by the king as ‘an inefficient PM’. In 2005, when he was the PM for a third time, the king staged a coup d’état, took power and put him under house arrest for 10 months.

Deuba is often criticised for failing to safeguard democracy from the palace, and splitting the party in 2002. But he managed to outsmart Poudel as a straightforward leader who is supportive of the cadre and honest about political principles. He was confident about his victory when he fell short of Poudel by just 11 votes in the first round.

Before the second round, he had said: “I’ve already won; this is just a formality.”

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7 Responses to “The rise of Deuba”

  1. bhithh on Says:

    what is this bullshit practice of introducing a person by his/her ethnicity??! hill chhetri, plain madeshi etc. etc. .. they are nepalis, period! or is this yet another divide-and-rule tactic of the ngo-elitists now?! what next .. introduce ssomeone by what they wear?!

  2. ladokha on Says:

    a hill-Brahmin clan — so what? Focus on his work & records, not his ethnics.

  3. Tshering dorji on Says:

    Hope for changes to Nepali congress party and Nepali politics. If Deuba maintains status quo than same DANG KOH MULA!!! He wants to build his legacy he should bring wholesale changes to his party and destroy party cliques etc and also promote young leadership from different backgrounds. Lots to do list.

  4. Abhishek Bhandari on Says:

    Nepali Congress without the Koirala really. Is not Shashank Koriala 2nd in Command?
    Please do not take all of us for such fools.

  5. Yam Gurung on Says:

    CIA vs RAW =Nepali politics???…

  6. Raghu Shrestha on Says:

    Deuba got to be PM twice and did nothing but start the tradition of jumbo cabinets.
    Nothing is going to change if he gets that opportunity again.
    Non of the older generations have any idea on how to move the country forward. All they care about is becoming ministers.

  7. East West | Travel Blog by Kunda Dixit | Nepali Times | » Blog Archive » Lady Justice on Says:

    […] irresponsibility lies with the Nepali Congress under the leadership of its three-time prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who wants to be prime minister again when (or, if) Pushpa Kamal Dahal steps down. Deuba had no […]

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