Bad news seems to be following Nepal’s Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ these days. And it has come from all conceivable quarters — home, family, party and government.
The present spell started in January when the 57-year-old shifted residence. The move from his Nayabazar home to a posh mansion in the centre of Kathmandu raised eyebrows and also made headlines.
Doubts regarding the building’s acquisition, some saying he pays rent while others declaring Prachanda had bought it at a princely sum (much lower than the market rate), fuelled discontent within Maoists and raised questions on his luxurious lifestyle.
Then the simmering rivalry between Prachanda and his hardliner deputy Mohan Baidya took an ugly turn last month when the latter split the party to form the Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist.
Prachanda had barely managed to recover from this jolt when a week later his other deputy, PM Baburam Bhattarai, spilled more bad news by refusing to step down from office till fresh elections to a new parliament are held.
The opposition has been demanding Bhattarai’s resignation as the only way out of the present deadlock following failure of the Constituent Assembly to promulgate a constitution. And Prachanda was working overtime to dislodge him to make way for a unity government.
But Bhattarai’s unexpected announcement took him by surprise. After initial reports about differences between both Maoist leaders, Prachanda decided to back his party colleague.
As if all this was not enough, last week Prachanda’s only son ‘disappeared’ with a married Maoist student leader. The twice-married Prakash was immediately expelled from the party.
The development must have been the biggest blow for the Maoist chief as not only was he grooming Prakash to take over the party’s mantle, the son had significant control over the party finances and rumours say he may have siphoned off a sizeable portion.
Not someone to be cowered by misfortunes, Prachanda is putting up a brave front and is busy rebuilding his party and reputation.