Late Krishna Prasad Bhattarai also known as Kishunji was Nepal’s noted political leader. He was also well known as ‘Santaneta’ due to his simple lifestyle. Kishunji, born on 13 December 1924, was one of the major leaders involved in transitioning Nepal from an absolute monarchy to a multi-party democracy.
In his youth, Bhattarai was a journalist as well. He was also one of the foreign journalists to interview the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev.
He was remembered last week by political leaders, activists and laymen on his 98th birth anniversary in Kathmandu and other places of the country.
Heled the government of Nepal as Prime Minister, once heading the Interim Government from 19 April 1990 to 26 May 1991, and then as elected Prime Minister from 31 May 1999 to 22 March 2000.
Bhattarai was the officiating President of the Nepali Congress, the largest democratic party of Nepal for nearly 26 years from 12 February 1976, and was elected to the post of president of party in 1988 till 1992. He participated in the democratic movement of Nepal from its inception. The Constitution of Nepal (1990) was promulgated while he was interim Prime Minister and he was credited for successfully holding the parliamentary election in 1990, a milestone in Nepal’s political history.
Bhattarai had participated in a long struggle to modernize the Nepalese political system, aiming to transform a society that was isolated for centuries from the outside world.
He started politics to end the 104-year-family rule of the Ranas. During the political movement of 1950 to overthrow the Rana autocracy, initiated by the Bairgania Conference of the Nepali Congress on 26–27 September 1950, he was in charge of armed group Congress Mukti Sena fighting in Gorkha district. This armed struggle was initiated by the Nepali Congress, of which he was founding member. The armed revolution led by the Nepali Congress was supported by King Tribhuvan, who was in exile, and by Indian and Burmese socialists. The armed revolution ultimately brought an end to the 104-yearrule of the Ranas on 18 February 1951.
After the first parliamentary election of 1959, at the age of 36, he became Speaker of lower house of parliament, though he was not an elected member. After the coup of 1960, Bhattarai was imprisoned without trial for eight years at the Sundarijal Military Detention Camp in Kathmandu.
Bhattarai was nominated as the officiating President of the Nepali Congress on 12 February 1976 by then party supremo B.P. Koirala. He held this post for more than 25 years, during which time he was a key figure in Nepal’s democratic movement. He was elected President of the Nepali Congress by the Eighth National Conference of the Nepali Congress, held in January 1992.
He had contributed to transform the country from an absolute monarchy to a multi-party democracy without any major obstacles. As the Interim Prime Minister of Nepal Kishunji had successfully shouldered the responsibility of promulgating a democratic constitution in Nepal in 1990 guaranteeing multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy. He is also credited for successfully conducting multi-party election in Nepal after a gap of 30 years. He was a popular leader but lost the election by a very narrow margin soon after the promulgation of the constitution. Bhattarai breathed last on 4 March 2011. Bhattari is remembered among the Nepalese people even today for the principle of simple living and high thinking. (By Ram Dangol)