Is former President Bhandari returning to active politics or poised for a graceful exit?

Published On: April 23, 2024 09:00 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, April 23: Nine months after CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli proposed awarding former President Bidya Devi Bhandari a national honor, the party finally honored her during the diamond jubilee celebration of the CPN-UML on Monday.

The National Convention Representatives Council meeting of the CPN (UML) that concluded on Sunday decided to honour the former president with the 'Republic Pride Honour' as a recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to the country's democratic and communist movements, said UML Vice Chairman Ishwar Pokharel.

Amid discussions about Bhandari’s potential return to politics following the end of her tenure as the president in March 2023, UML Chairman Oli had expressed in a program last August that it would be appropriate to honor her with a national award. 

Oli was critical of some leaders who were advocating for Bhandari’s return to active politics and were lobbying even for her to become the chairperson of UML.  

The decision to honor former President Bhandari has sparked curiosity about whether she is being pulled back into active politics or for her graceful exit.

UML has invited Bhandari as the chief guest of a program to be organized by the party’s sister organisation. Last week, the meeting of the Sister Organization Coordination Mechanism ofd the party decided to hold a women's national gathering on May 29 and 30 with former President Bhandari slated to be the chief guest. This marks her reentry into party politics.

Some leaders within the UML are also lobbying for Bhandari to assume the role of party chairperson, citing that it would foster unity among the left parties. Last year, during a meeting with journalists at her residence, Bhandari mentioned that she wouldn’t remain a passive observer if there were internal issues within the party.  

She had said that she would not take government facilities upon leaving Sheetal Niwas. Despite taking security provided by the Nepalese Army, she has returned other amenities provided by the government, including the vehicle given to her on March 3, 2023.

After leaving Sheetal Niwas, Bhandari has been in constant dialogue with UML leaders and activists at her residence. Chairman Oli, commenting on this issue, on August 13, remarked that meeting the party cadres is not a big deal, but getting invited into politics is not a welcome move. 

As per Oli's proposal, Bhandari was honored by the party with the national pride award. 

UML has resolved to ensure the success of Mission 84 through a gathering of prominent leaders and activists from across the country. The party's national convention representative council meeting held in Godavari in Lalitpur on Saturday and Sunday passed resolutions aimed at establishing a strong national presence in the next three years.


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