By Sudeshna Sarkar IANS
Kathmandu : After Indira Gandhi in India, Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and Chandrika Kumaratunga in Sri Lanka, another daughter has made her debut in South Asia’s political skies: Renu Dahal, daughter of Nepal’s Maoist leader Prachanda.
Asked how she felt after her election to the constituent assembly, Dahal, speaking to IANS in between hushing her four-month-old crying son, said it was a matter of pride and additional responsibility.
Did she get nominated to the 601-member assembly because she was her father’s daughter?
“I was inspired by my father to join the party,” Dahal told IANS. “However, since then, I have been able to create my own identity.”
The month of May will see a triple triumph for Maoist chairman Prachanda with his once banned party emerging as the largest after last month’s election, he himself winning with thumping majority from two constituencies and now, his daughter also making it to the historic constituent assembly.
The dark horse’s poll debut has caught Nepal by surprise.
During the April 10 election, the media remained absorbed in the fate of Sujata Koirala, daughter of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who made her poll debut from the Terai plains and lost.
Few noticed the ascendance of the new star daughter since little is known, even today, about Prachanda’s personal life.
When Prachanda, who had remained underground for nearly two decades, appeared in public three years ago after the fall of King Gyanendra’s government, all the public knew about his personal life was that his son Prakash was one of the bodyguards of the supremo, who once carried a price on his head.
Dahal, 31, joined her father’s party in 1997, a year after the Maoists had begun their “people’s war” demanding the abolition of monarchy.
Forced to end her education after school, she was sent to India, where she was the chief of the Akhil Bharat Nepali Mahila Sangh, recruiting supporters from Nepali migrants in India.
Based in New Delhi and Punjab, Dahal worked among the diaspora in Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab.
Following the party diktat, she married Arjun Pathak, a fellow Maoist, and the couple now have two children.
At present, she is a member of the regional bureau of the party.
Dahal was nominated to the 601-member constituent assembly under the proportional representation system, which gave the Maoists an additional 100 seats, taking their tally to 220.