Indian author’s book Prachanda’s gift to UN chief

October 31st, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 31 (IANS) As UN chief Ban Ki-Moon arrives in Kathmandu on a whirlwind two-day visit Friday, Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” has lined up an unusual gift besides hosting a sumptuous banquet in his honour. The UN secretary general and his entourage will be gifted copies of “Prachanda: the unknown revolutionary”, the first biography in English offering intimate glimpses into the virtually unknown personal life of the formerly underground guerrilla, penned by Indian journalist Anirban Roy.

“I received a call Thursday from Roy who said the Prime Minister’s Office had rung him up saying they wanted to buy copies of the book to present to the visiting delegation,” said Madhav Lal Maharjan, CEO of Mandala Book Point, the publishers of Roy’s book.

“All offices and commercial establishments were closed due to the Diwali holidays. So, I rushed to the Kantipath showroom to open it for an hour.”

Maharjan was delighted with the news.

“I was delighted,” he said. “When the book goes into the hands of such distinguished people, we feel it is serving an excellent purpose.”

Roy’s biography, the first book in English to focus on the private life of Prachanda and provide an insight into his family life as well as the personal reasons that made him a rebel, would act as a bridge for the international audience, Maharjan feels.

“Many Nepalis have an idea about Prachanda and some have also met him,” Maharjan told IANS. “But the world outside has little idea about him or the Maoist movement. Roy’s book will help allay their concerns.”

It was a happy coincidence that the biography was published in September, a month after Prachanda won the prime ministerial election and was sworn in.

“Actually, we had planned the book six months before the (constituent assembly) election (in April) when no one knew which party was going to win,” Maharjan said. “However, it was delayed due to technical reasons.”

Roy, a journalist working for the Hindustan Times daily, had said he was moved to write the book after he came to Nepal to cover the pro-democracy movement against King Gyanendra’s regime in 2006 and found there was little authentic information regarding the enigmatic leader, who had lived underground for 25 years.

“When I first saw him…I found it hard to believe that a person as sober as Prachanda could be the supreme commander of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army that led a series of intrepid armed attacks against the security forces across Nepal for more than a decade,” Roy wrote in his foreword.

“… After meeting him several times at public programmes in Kathmandu, Prachanda’s image of an exterminator slowly vanished… It soon dawned on me that the ferocity lay in Prachanda’s ideas and his rebellious instincts, not in his personality or physique.”

The Maoist government is excited about Ban’s visit as it will enhance its image as a legitimate one distanced from the violence of past. The gift is probably intended to reinforce that image in the eyes of the world.

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