He is now the Prime Minister or Nepal, but almost 17 years ago Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka ‘Prachanda’ was a Maoist guerrilla leading the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in the civil war of the then Himalayan kingdom.
At the time, Prachanda was the face of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal which lasted for ten years from 1996 to 2006. Eventually, the guerrillas won under Prachanda’s leadership.
So celebrated was Prachanda among the Maoists that murals on Kathmandu’s walls read “Mālemāvād ra Prachaṇḍapath” or Ma(rx)-Le(nin)-Ma(o)-Prachanda Way, which can be simply understood as ‘Path of Prachanda’ – a communist line of thought.
It now turns out that Prachanda may have undergone training in India’s Naxal hotbed of Chhattisgarh with other Maoists.
According to a report published by Navbharat Times, the news about Prachanda’s training in India came from Kundan Pahan, a top Naxal commander who was arrested in Ranchi.
Kundan is believed to have told the police that he trained with Prachanda in the jungles of Chhattisgarh in 2000. At the time, Kundan was 16 years old.
The Naxal commander also said that Prachanda had also established an entire network of Naxal terrorists in Chhattisgarh.
Naxals were trained near Bokaro by a team from West Bengal. The report says that some of the finest weapons used to arrive at the Naxal camps.
How much of Kundan’s revelation is believable?
It is true that Prachanda spent at least eight years in India during the Nepalese civil war. All this while, he remained underground directing his guerillas from India.
The news of him receiving training in Chhattisgarh is, however, new.
What is surprising is this new piece of information indicates that Nepalese Maoists were trained by Indian Naxals and not the Chinese.
In 2006, Prachanda entered mainstream politics and the monarchy in Nepal was abolished. In the subsequent elections, the first after the end of monarchy, Prachanda emerged victorious and became the first Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
His relationship with India has been on and off depending on the political situation in his country. Today, India sees Prachanda as a dependable leader for ensuring smooth India-Nepal relations following a briefly tense period due to the Madhesi struggle.