Chairman Prachanda may have inspired awe and fear all the years he lead the underground Maoist movement in Nepal. But now, having joined the political process, he seems a mellowed man. The same cannot be said of the fiery Maoist women, many of whom are ministers now.
Hisila Yami, Minister of Physical Planning and Works, is unambiguous about the future of Nepal. While her male colleagues are willing to compromise, Yami, who is also the wife of Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, is clear that people like Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the former King are history. “He (Koirala) must go, he must respect the verdict of the people. He is a tall personality and must now play the role that Sonia Gandhi plays in India, that of a mentor but not in office.”
In an oblique reference to Koirala, Yami said she feels that the vote has been in favour of ushering in a younger generation.
“We have few old people around in our government, the young people are excited by this change.”
She herself is the antithesis of what a sub-continental woman minister is. Dressed in smart navy blue slacks and a well-cut grey jacket, she is scathing of the former elite of Nepal like its erstwhile Rana rulers.
“Let them be nationalistic, then think of their bank balances.”
Referring to former King Gyanendra, she says if he knows what is good for him, he should invest his vast wealth in the country. “Otherwise, there is simply no space for him.”
Echoing these sentiments, Minister for Women and Child Welfare Pampha Bhushal says, “The past is truly over.”
During the years of the underground revolution, it was she who relentlessly mobilised the women cadre and everyone now acknowledges that the Maoists owe their shock victory substantially to the women’s vote.
“Women are not just equals in our movement, they are privileged and rightly so,” she says.
The government has over 35 per cent women parliamentarians cutting across caste and socio-economic backgrounds.
Many of them have questioned why Gyanendra should get a comfortable palace to live in while poor people don’t even have a roof over their heads.
Yami has the last word. “We will spare no quarter to those trying to stop our second rebirth. For those looking to live off the fat of the land, there is no place in the new Nepal.”