Pun’s long journey from PLA commander to Vice President

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Nov 1, 2015-

Soon after his victory in the Vice President election on Saturday, Nanda Bahadur Pun ‘Pasang’ reached UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s residence in Lazimpat. While Dahal suggested that he work for the country and the people, Pun thanked his party boss for playing a vital role in ensuring his victory.

Given the affinity that the two developed over the years, Vice President-elect Pun’s gesture was not surprising. Many see Pun becoming the second Vice President of the Republic of Nepal as the reward of his continued devotion to the party and his contribution to the peace process especially during the integration of the Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army.

During the insurgency, he served as one of the four deputy commanders of the People’s Liberation Army whose chief was Dahal. In the decade-long insurgency, Pun not only planned but led most of the major battles with the state security forces.

Since the Maoist party entered peaceful politics in 2006, Pun has not held any public office whereas his contemporaries Janardan Sharma and Barsha Man Pun went on to become ministers.

But this time around, even Dahal was under immense pressure to find him a high office. With the Maoist party joining the CPN-UML-led government, Pun for the first time demanded a ministerial position. But it was not possible as he was not a member of Parliament.

According to Maoist leaders, Dahal was impressed by Pun’s wartime role as the deputy commander of the Maoist army. Dahal made Pun the PLA commander after he became the prime minister in 2008.

According to leaders, Pun played a “constructive role” in the concluding phase of the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. He facilitated the implementation of the decisions taken by the government and the parties, the UCPN (Maoist) acknowledged on Saturday.

Due to the delay in vacating the Maoist cantonments, there was resentment among combatants but he took all division commanders into confidence. In the final days of integration, there was tension in the camps but he was able to manage the dispute, said Maoist leaders.

He was a member of the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee chaired by the UN Mission in Nepal with membership of both the national and Maoist armies formed in the initial days of the peace process. The JMCC was responsible for supervising compliance by parties with the Agreement on Monitoring and Management of Arms and Armies.

Before casting his vote for Pun on Saturday, Prime Minister KP Oli said he appreciated Pun’s role in the completion of the peace process.

Given his poor health, Pun was not keen to continue active party politics. Party insiders said this is the reason why he opted for vice-presidency. In 2013, he faced serious problems in his both kidneys but he refused to go abroad for treatment.

Born in October 23, 1965 in Rangsi village of Rolpa, Pun received school-level education from village school and higher education from Mahendra Multiple Campus in Ghorahi, Dang. He was a Janajati Maoist leader of humble background from Mid West to have reached such a high public position.

Besides formal education, he studied military science and political philosophy mainly during his political career. He also served as a teacher in his village for some time.

Following his defeat in the second Constituent Assembly election from Kathmandu-4, he had remained passive in party politics. However, his elevation to the country’s second top position will keep him in the limelight until new presidential elections after a new legislature is elected.

Published: 01-11-2015 08:18

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