Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Not so humble ministerial habits

PRESIDENTIAL SUITE: Prime Minister Dahal's bedroom at his offcial residence?Baluwatar.

A meal that Prime Minster Pushpa Kamal Dahal thoroughly enjoys is ghee, rice and local chicken or goat meat. He doesn't mind cauliflower and potatoes or spinach either. Besides his food, he also likes clothes?he has 20 pairs of trousers and around a dozen suits, says his personal assistant BK Shrestha. Also a fan of black leather shoes, he uses Nepali brands like Basbari, Sky and Tiptop.

There was also a time when he used to sport a Rs 50,000 Rado watch, which was given to him by a famous industrialist. However, after a lot of public speculation and opposition from his cadres he stopped wearing it. Another thing that has stirred speculation since Prachanda became PM is the Rs100,000 bed imported from China. However, Shrestha claims, "Contradictory to the rumours, the bed only cost Rs 70,000 and was bought by the president, vice-president and the speaker."

The PM's daily routine consists of waking up at 4AM, reading and playing badminton with his son Prakash and his nephew Samir for half an hour. He also loves listening to music and watching movies. When he has time, he also enjoys singing challenges with his 10-year-old granddaughter Smita. Besides the news, the PM is fond of the show 'Tito Satya'.

Other Maoist ministers such as state reconstruction and culture minister Gopal Kirati who used to cane people during the People's War for drinking wine, now likes drinking wine and even scotch after a hard day at work. "People who come to meet me gift red label and black label. It would be rude to return a gift, so I drink one or two pegs before I sleep," says Kirati.

There has been a drastic change in his lifestyle. Kirati now wears coats that cost Rs 20,000 and watches worth
Rs16, 000. But he says, "I don't buy expensive things?friends who live abroad give them to me as gifts."
Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' likes classical music. His favourite singer is India's Shova Mudgal. Besides the news, he never misses the program 'Sare Gama'.

Labour and transport minister Lekhraj Bhatta uses red Mehendi on his hair once a month and loves the Hindi movie Sholay. But he claims his lifestyle hasn't changed much from the years when he was fighting in the war. He says, "How much you choose to change your life depends on the person."

Maoist spokesperson and communication minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara's favourite pastime is watching political movies. He likes Balidan best. He also likes to travel but due to lack of time he hasn't been able to treat himself to this pleasure, says his PA Khagendra.

Maoist CA member and advocate Khimlal Devkota's biggest indulgence is his suits. He says, "I have four suits that cost Rs 12,000 and many ties that match my shirts." He also has two laptops that clients gave to him when he won their cases.

Maoist central committee member and CA member Top Bahadur Rayamaji who got married in a second-hand coat that cost Rs 35 and shoes that cost Rs 25, now owns numerous suits. Since 1973, Rayamaji has kept a written diary.

After winning the CA elections Maoist member Jhakku Prasad Subedi, received many gifts such as bikes from friends and well-wishers. He says, "Industrialists tried to gift cars as well but I didn't take them."

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)