Former Nepal prime minister and one of the founder members of Nepali Congress Krishna Prasad Bhattarai died here late on Friday night. He was 87.
Popular among his followers as Kishunji, the late leader succumbed to multiple organ failure at Norvic International Hospital, a specialized private hospital at 11: 26 pm.
Bhattarai who was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago had slipped into coma early this week. He was being fed through a pipe inserted in his stomach via his nose.
According to Dr Bharat Rawat, executive director and consultant cardiologist at the hospital, Kishunji died a natural death after the machine providing him oxygen was taken off.
As soon as news of the death spread, hundreds of residents reached the hospital to pay last respects to Bhattarai. His body was later taken to his ‘ashram’ at Lalitpur on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
The Jhalanath Khanal government declared a public holiday on Sunday in Bhattarai’s honour. The national flag will be flown at half mast for three days to mourn the death.
It body will be kept at the Nepali Congress head office and Dashrath Rangshala stadium in the capital for few hours for public viewing on Sunday. Bhattarai will be cremated with full state honour at Pashupati Temple Sunday afternoon.
Nepali Congress, the country’s oldest party, which Bhattarai helped set up more than six decades ago, has decided to close all its offices for 13 days as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
Born in Varanasi in 1924, Bhattarai had also taken part in the Quit India movement before getting involved in the movement to remove the hereditary Rana prime ministers in Nepal.
He became the Speaker of parliament after the first parliamentary election in 1959 at the age of 36. He became the president of Nepali Congress in 1976, a post he held for nearly two decades.
Bhattarai became Prime Minister of the interim government after the Peoples Movement of 1990 that helped restore multi-party democracy and remove the 30-year-old ‘panchayat’ system of government.
A staunch believer in constitutional monarchy, he became PM for the second time in May 1999.
Bhattarai never married and was known as an honest and idealist politician.