Nepal’s first democratic prime minister Bhattarai dies

March 5th, 2011 - 1:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Lalitpur (Nepal), Mar. 5 (ANI): Nepal’s first democratically elected prime minister, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, has died at the age of 87.

Bhattarai, one of the founders of the Nepali Congress, was pronounced dead late Friday.

“He died of cardiac arrest,” said Dr Bharat Rawat, consultant cardiologist at the Norvic Hospital here.

Bhattarai was the first prime minister to head a democratic government in Nepal in 1990 when King Mahendra’s son Birendra stepped down as an absolute monarch to make way for democracy.

Under his leadership from 1990 to 1991, the country changed from an absolute monarchy to a multi-party system.

He was also elected as prime minister in 1999, and served until the following year.

Bhattarai is remembered as the prime minister who owned nothing besides an earthenware water pitcher, an umbrella and a tin trunk. The octogenarian leader lived in a government-owned property.

He led the Nepali Congress party, the first political party in the country, for almost 26 years, but resigned from the party in 2007 due to a difference of opinion about whether Nepal should be a republic or, as he preferred, a constitutional monarchy.

The 1990 constitution was promulgated during his term as prime minister and the first democratic election in 1990 was also held while he was premier

On Saturday, leaders and cadres of the Nepali Congress and other political parties, government officials, general public and well-wishers paid floral tribute to Bhattarai at his Ashram in Bandegaun of Lalitpur.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari after paying tribute to his mortal body said Bhattarai was the icon of democratic movements of Nepal.

He added that his contribution to the democratic movement in Nepal would be remembered forever.

The chairperson of the Constituent Assembly (CA), Nilambar Acharya, described Bhattarai as synonym of democracy, adding that the path shown by Bhattarai to establish people as the sovereign power should be followed by all political forces.

He added that Bhattarai should be recognized as a great leader with capacity to give leadership to the party and country in a difficult crisis.

Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Poudel including senior leaders were also present at the ashram and offered their homage.

Thousands of well-wishers have been lining up at the ashram to pay tribute to the veteran democratic leader. Hymns are being recited wishing for the eternal peace of his departed soul.

The final rites will be performed at the Dasharath Stadium on Sunday. (ANI)

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