Yubaraj Ghimire : Kathmandu, Thu Jul 12 2012, 01:42 hrs
Two months ago, when Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai
sanctioned Rs 20 million for a nine-member expedition to Mt Everest, it
sparked outrage over what many saw as splurging of public money on a
team that included Prakash Dahal, son of Maoist leader Prachanda.
Prakash later announced he did not need the money, ending that
controversy, only to enter another. Prakash, married with a child, has
now apparently eloped with one of his expedition team-mates, Bina Thapa
Magar, a Maoist student activist. This was after they had scaled the
Prakash, 31, and Bina are said to be “in hiding” in Patna, a city where he had gone to school from 1996 to 2002.
Prakash was married twice earlier. The first marriage, in 2006,
was with the daughter of Posta Bahadur Bogati, a powerful Maoist leader,
a Prachanda follower and currently a minister. It lasted 16 months.
Less than a year after the bitter divorce, the national media
flashed pictures of Prachanda dancing at his son’s wedding. The bride
was Srijana Pathak, a girl from a village, and the couple now have a
Bina was once married to Shankar Adhikary, who too is a Maoist
student leader. They fell out and parted company politically, too,
ending on opposite sides of the Maoist party’s split.
Signs of Prakash’s relationship with Bina showed during the
expedition. “From the base camp, at least two members of the team kept
informing Prakash’s parents that Bina and Prakash’s behaviour would
bring disrepute to the family and the party,” said an activist of the
Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M). “But Prachanda and
his wife did not take it seriously,” said the activist, who is close to
Sources said Prakash was doted on by his parents whose other three children are daughters, all elder to the only son.
At 14, they pulled him out of a government school in Kathmandu
and took him to to Patna. One of his sisters was living there; her
father-in-law T B Pathak was with Punjab National Bank. After completing
school, Prakash joined his father’s movement. “After the Maoists joined
mainstream politics in 2006, Prachanda gained in influence and
affluence,” an insider said.
Prakash figured on the front page of a local newspaper three
years ago, apparently drunk, and the insider claimed he controls a
substantial part of benami property that Prachanda is alleged to have
acquired. “Prachanda has minted billions and we want a probe into it,”
said P Gajurel, a party colleague of more than two decades who recently
broke away from Prachanda.
“One piece of advice from G P Koirala that Prachanda took
seriously was that he should not involve outsiders in the handling of
his property,” said a standing committee member. So Prakash ended up
handling a lot; party sources guess he has taken with him enough money
not only to buy a flat in Patna but also have enough left to “live
comfortably for some time”.
Prakash’s weaknesses are said to include scotch. “Prakash got
into the habit while serving his father’s guests,” said a friend of his.
Prachanda appointed his son in the staff of the PM when he
himself took over as chief executive officer for nine months from August
2008. Prakash earned the reputation of a deal-maker while Prachanda’s
nephew Sameer Dahal, although more effective, kept a lower profile.
The doting father is now apparently showing his embarrassment. His
close aides say he had confided in former prime minister Madhav Nepal,
leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist
(CPN-UML), a few days before the elopement. Once the news broke out, it
was Prachanda who asked his party’s politburo to suspend Prakash from
the state council and investigate his affairs. Bina , a national
coordinator for the Maoist party’s student wing, too has been suspended.
Party sources wondered if Prakash is in touch with Pathak, his sister’s father-in-law, who now lives in Delhi.
from Indian Express