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King Birendra ruled absolutely for 18 years before the people's movement of 1990 convinced him to lift the ban on political parties.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 18:13 IST

Head of state: King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev

Yielding to unrelenting pressure from pro-democracy movement, King Gyanendra met a key demand of the Seven-Party Alliance by announcing that Parliament, which he had dissolved in 2002, had been revived.

King Gyanendra ascended the throne in June 2001 soon after then Crown Prince Dipendra gunned down his parents King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya and seven other royals.

The 29-year-old Crown Prince Dipendra ran amok at a family dinner in a drunken and drug-fuelled rage before killing himself.

King Gyanendra, who was born in 1947 and educated in India and Nepal, is married and has two children. He dismissed a popularly-elected government in 2002 and assumed executive powers himself.

Gyanendra, who owns a hotel in Kathmandu, is interested in developing the kingdom's tourism potential.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala

GP Koirala was appointed the Prime Minister of Nepal on April 27, 2006 by King Gyanendra after weeks of anti-monarchy protests in the Himalayan Kingdom.

The leaders of a seven-party alliance had chosen the veteran politician as their candidate to head a new government.

In his address to the Parliament, Koirala said he was committed to upholding people's wishes and was directing the House to begin urgent discussions on how to initiate elections to write a new Constitution that would transform Nepal into a republic, if people so desired.

Koirala also spoke of his commitment to hold a dialogue with the Maoist guerrillas at the earliest and declare a ceasefire on behalf of the government.

The octogenarian has been the leader of that country four times, from 1991 to 1994, from 1998 to 1999, from 2000 until 2001, and from 2006.

Koirala, 84, rose to prominence in the late 1940s as a trade union leader. He spent seven years in jail and later went into exile in India for opposing monarchy in 1960.

In 1991, he became Nepal's first elected PM in 30 years after protests against King Birendra led to restoration of multi-party democracy. But stepped down in 1994 after losing elections.

He rode to power for a 4th time in 2000 on anti-corruption ticket and promised to stamp out Maoist rebellion, which aimed to topple constitutional monarchy. But he resigned as the insurgency spread rapidly.

The frail leader faces the enormous challenge of keeping the alliance together, along with trying to bring their Maoist rebel allies into talks before announcing elections to the special assembly.

Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister: Khadga Prasad Oli

Finance Minister: Ram Sharan Mahat

Interior Minister: Krishna Prasad Sitaula

Other eminent personalities

King Birendra

Generally seen as a benevolent monarch, King Birendra ruled absolutely for 18 years before the people's movement of 1990 convinced him to lift the ban on political parties and hand over sovereignty to the people.

That single fateful decision changed the course of history in Nepal, thus undoing his father's legacy and ushering in pluralistic democracy.

Nepal today is an infant but vibrant democracy thanks to King Birendra's wise decision. King Birendra remains one of the few personalities who stuck closely to the letter and sprit of the Constitution.

King Mahendra

King Mahendra bequeathed a legacy that has shaped the course of political events in Nepal for four long decades.

The struggle for supremacy between King Mahendra and Nepal's first democratically elected Prime Minister BP Koirala precipitated the royal coup of December 1960.

Tightening his absolute grip on power, the King dissolved Parliament, banished political parties and imprisoned many democratic leaders ushering in the Panchayat era.

It was only after three decades that a continued struggle and unprecedented coming together of the Nepali Congress and Communist forces in 1990 undid King Mahendra's political legacy. Three decades after his death, King Mahendra's shadow hangs over democratic Nepal.

Dr Dilli Raman Regmi

In 1914 when Dilli Raman Regmi was born, Nepal was being ruled by autocratic rulers; was in the dark ages. Dr Dilli Raman Regmi stands as one of the world's few figures who dedicated their lives totally to their nations.

His high moral values, Gandhian philosophy, quest for knowledge, foresightedness and untiring fight for bringing freedom and democracy to Nepal alienated many but he stood steady like a rock.

An outstanding student from Darbar High School days, Raman Regmi realised by 1930s that the only path to a modern Nepal was freedom from the clutches of the Rana rulers.

He was instrumental in the creation of the underground Nepali Rastriya Congress in 1934. These acts put his life in grave danger but nothing could stop him from fighting for a just cause.

Despite being jailed, the freedom struggle for Nepal intensified. Dr Regmi was instrumental in the creation of the official Nepali Rashtriya Congress headquartered in Banaras, India in January 1947 and was soon elected President in July 1947.

Dr Dilli Raman Regmi exposed the Rana regime's dark age rule in Nepal through his book, 'A Century of Family Autocracy' in 1949, through numerous press briefings, meetings with Indian leaders, like Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Ram Manohar Lohia and others and by writing to world powers like the United States and to international organisations like UN Security Council which pressurised the Rana regime to relinquish power.

His struggle finally bore fruit. Nepal became free from the Ranas in 1953 and Dr Regmi returned to Nepal. He immediately invested all his energy into building a modern Nepal.