Updated: December 25, 2015 11:39:45 pm
Nepal’s new president Bidhya Bhandari will be moving to Shital Niwas as the first woman president and second head of the state after the Himalayan state became a republic seven years ago.
That will also mean an end to Bhandari’s active association of over 37 years with politics —first 10 clandestinely since political parties were banned– is over at 54.
Someone with strong willpower and courage, Bhandari has emerged victorious through all the factional feuds of the party. She belonged till the last moment to the faction led by Prime Minister K P Oli who made her candidature a prestige issue.
Bhandari has also fought bravely against cancer that first attacked her five years ago.
In fact, she suffered an early setback to her political career during her student life when she married Madan Bhandari at the age of 21. Once the party arranged their marriage, Bhandari moved up greater responsibilities before he died in 1992 in an accident while he was the party general secretary.
Mrs Bhandari who became more of a housewife looking after her two daughters, was made a member of the party’s central committee and asked to contest the parliamentary seat that had fallen vacant following her husband’s death.
A parliamentarian in 1992, defence minister 18 years later, head of the party’s women’s wing, Vice Chairperson and President, something that she probably never aspired to have come her way one after another.
Yet her real challenge begins now: How will a factional leader of the UML, aligned with the Prime Minister and party chief Oli’s faction, conduct herself as the head of state that demands neutrality?
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