Nepal`s top Maoist under fire for luxury mansion

Last Updated: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 23:53

Kathmandu: Nepal`s top Maoist politician, who led a 10-year insurgency in the Himalayan country which left 16,000 people dead, was accused on Monday of selling out after moving into a lavish mansion in Kathmandu.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who goes by the nom-de-guerre
Prachanda (The Fierce One), is a former Communist guerrilla
who rose from humble village beginnings to lead a "people`s
war" against Nepal`s royal family and its political elites.

The rented 15-room property -- 1,500 square metres
(16,000 sq feet) of prime real estate near the bustling city
centre -- includes parking space for more than a dozen
vehicles and a table tennis room, his office said.

"The Maoists have deviated from their stated goal. It
used to be socialism but now they have surrendered to
bourgeois state power," said Mumaram Khanal, a political
analyst and former Maoist leader.

"It is natural in such a situation to transform into
someone with the characteristics of a member of parliamentary
politics. They are revolutionary only in words, not in deeds."

Prachanda, 58, grew up in a family of farmers in southern
Nepal, teaching in government schools before being
indoctrinated in socialist philosophy by Nepal`s communist
leaders.

In 1996, after witnessing the plight of the poor in the
village where he grew up, he led a Maoist insurgency which
culminated in the overthrow of the Shah dynasty in 2008.

He was later elected prime minister for a brief spell and
is now the chairman of the ruling Maoists and a lawmaker
representing a constituency in Kathmandu.

Prachanda`s personal assistant, Samir Dahal, said the
politician had been advised of "security concerns" over his
old residence.

"Moreover, the public bus station was nearby and several
houses were under construction in the area," the aide added.

The new mansion costs the Maoist party just over 100,000
rupees ($1,300) a month, the aide said, a modest sum in
many countries but almost three times the average annual
income in Nepal.

Local media have reported that the landlord lives in
Canada, while the aide confirmed that over 70 security guards
provided by the government are housed in the complex.

"Prachanda has a penchant for lavish lifestyle, good
food and other fine things in life. It may be that he was
deprived of this in his youth," political analyst Khanal
added.
"Now in power, he wants to accumulate wealth and live
in luxury. The house he has chosen is testament to this."

The Republica newspaper said in a scathing editorial
that many families "making do in dank and dark two-room
lodgings" would be questioning "the communist credentials of
the `leader of the proletariats`".

The Nepali community blog carried a post supporting
Prachanda`s right to move into a bigger house but criticising
him for not being more open about the rent arrangements.

Across the border, the Indian Express quoted a senior
Maoist source saying: "This only confirms the fear expressed
by Maoist vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya Kiran that Prachanda has
failed to honour the issue of probity in public life."

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 23:53

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