The 42nd Prime Minister of Nepal
Name: Sher Bahadur Deuba
Date of Birth: 13th June 1946
Hometown: Ashigram, Dadeldhura, Nepal
Spouse: Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba
Descendent: Jaiveer Singh Deuba
Sher Bahadur Deuba (age 69 years) is one of the most eminent political figures from Nepal. Having been democratically elected as the president of the Nepali Congress, he currently also leads the opposition alliance. Owing to the unprecedented and historical mandamus from the Supreme Court of Nepal, Deuba is the Prime Minister designate of Nepal. This will be the fifth time Deuba will be serving as the Prime Minister. He previously served four terms of Prime Minister-ship from 1995 to 1997, 2001 to 2002, 2004 to 2005, and 2017 to 2018.
Early Political Life
Committed to Nepali Congress for over half a decade now, Deuba was born in Dadeldhura district, one of the most backward regions from the far-west of Nepal. Having seen his hometown struggling even in terms of basic rights, he was determined to transform the scenario while he was still in high school. Subsequently, the young 19-year-old Deuba began his political career as the president of the Far-western Students’ Committee.
Deuba later emerged as a young student activist when he, along with his fellow students, founded Nepali Students’ Union. He was also the first elected president of the Union, a sister organisation of the Nepali Congress.
The leading political party of the nation, Congress, too recognized Deuba as one of the most prominent student leaders. With the establishment of democracy in 1990, he was already in the spotlight among his fellow student leaders. In the first parliamentary elections held two years later, he got elected from his hometown Dadeldhura. His win was extraordinary as he left his contender far behind with a huge margin.
The emerging political icon was also equally brilliant in academics. He currently holds a MA in political science and a BA in humanities and law. Deuba also has been recognized as a research fellow at the prestigious London School of Economics from 1988-89.
Struggle for Democracy
Nepal probably has seen political turmoil, unlike any other nation. Many times autocratic kings and leaders have tried crippling democracy, be it King Mahendra or Gyanendra. Many prominent political figureheads were jailed and kept in detention in these instances. Deuba was also jailed for protesting against the king’s authoritarian rule and was subsequently tortured.
Deuba spent a total of nine years in detention. While in jail, he had to endure inhumane conditions. However brutal his time in detention was, he never left his political and ideological stance for democracy. Deuba suffers from a speech defect reportedly caused by the torture he endured, which left him with permanent damage to his tongue and lips.
The Rise of Deuba
Sher Bahadur Deuba was gradually earning a trustworthy posture within the Nepali Congress. He was dear to Bisheswar Prasad Koirala, fondly known as BP Koirala, the then president of Congress. Deuba got a chance to experience the political stance of BP up close and personal, which ultimately also shaped Deuba’s political portfolio.
Thanks to BP, Deuba was unanimously elected as NSU president twice. And since then, Deuba never had to look back. Following the byelections of 1994, Deuba served as the Home Minister in the cabinet chaired by Girija Prasad Koirala.
He soon gained political support from within his party, and first came into power as the Prime Minister in 1995. He emerged as a tough leader during his tenure and also initiated some important projects, some of which were controversial and criticized. One of such controversial decisions by his cabinet was the Mahakali treaty. However, his government also did some commendable jobs, especially by trying to bring marginalized and oppressed communities, Dalits, women, and Madhesis into mainstream politics.
National Women’s Commission, Indigenous Nationalities Commission, and Dalit Commission all were initiated when Deuba was in the government.
Owing to conflicts within his own party, his tenure ended when a vote of no confidence was filed against him.
Deuba became Prime Minister for a second time after the then-Nepali Congress leader resigned over a dispute with the king in 2001, only to then be removed by the monarchy himself a year later, who branded him “incompetent”.
Deuba has certainly witnessed some of the major turnarounds in the political history of Nepal. Even though his political career seems quite linear, it has always been full of unprecedented coincidences – sometimes for the good and other times for the worse. One of such instances is when the monarch brought Deuba to power for a third time, to only oust him a year later. He led the government during tough times when the nation was witnessing a brutal civil war. He was responsible for trying to tackle the Maoist insurgency as he deployed the army to bring the nation to peace.
His fourth premiership came when he signed a deal with Pushpa Kamal Dahal to lead a coalition government of the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre) before the general elections of 2017. Having sworn in as the Prime Minister of the country four times already, Deuba has been in the political spotlight for over 25 years now. During the past four Prime Minister ships, he brought along some praiseworthy changes. Deuba is believed to help strengthen Nepal’s relationship with the United States. He even played a key role in the fight against terrorism during ten year-long Nepalese Civil War.
Following a PIL filed against the decision of parliamentary dissolution by preceding Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Supreme Court of Nepal stated the decision to be unlawful. Furthermore, the court even ordered to appoint Deuba as the next Prime Minister of Nepal. The decision, according to the Supreme Court, is based on Article 76(5) of the constitution of Nepal.
Both Deuba and Nepali Congress welcomed the decision from the Supreme Court. Deuba now becomes the third leader only after Surya Bahadur Thapa and Girija Prasad Koirala to chair the office for five times.