October 31, 2015
Nanda Bahadur Pun, (better known during the 10-year civil war as “Comrade Pasang”), was elected today as Nepal’s new Vice President.
He is 50 years old and a member of the Central Committee of the Maoists’ party UCPN.
Until today, Pun has never held public office, despite his party being in power twice in the last seven years. He has a secondary education.
Pun was born on 23 October 1965 in Bhanbhane, Rangsi VDC-9 of Rolpa. He is the son of Ramsur and Manasara Pun, the fourth among seven children.
In 1981, while still a teenager, Pun became involved with radical student politics. He joined the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) “Sixth”. The ANNFSU, founded in 1965, is a politically based student organization, associated with the pro-China trend of the Nepalese communist movement.
In 1979 ANNFSU split into two groups: the ANNFSU (Fifth), which was tied to the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist), and the ANNFSU (Sixth), which was connected to the Communist Party of Nepal (Fourth Convention). Pun joined the latter.
During the 1980s, Pun became a district committee member of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Center). In 1990, he became the first district president of the newly formed Young Communist League (YCL). This was an armed front of the Unity Center formed to aggressively counter activities of the then ruling Nepali Congress party, which was filing cases against Pun’s party.
When the party divided in 1994, Pun sided with the wing that would become the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The YCL – at that time known as Ladak u Dal (Fighting Force) was then converted into a militia.
The Ladak u Dal took part in the launching of the “People's War” with the night attack of a police post in Holeri on 13 February 1996. Pun was there, acting as an assistant commander under Barsha Man Pun, aka “Ananta”.
Nanda Bahadur Pun’s rise through the Maoist military ranks was steady and rapid.
In 2001, when Ladak u Dal became the “People’s Liberation Army” (PLA), Pun was made commander of the first battalion. He takes credit for having been involved with most of the PLA’s major attacks in Western Nepal against security forces – a decade-long conflict that resulted in the deaths of more than 16,000 Nepalis.
Pun was named chief commander of PLA in 2008, two years after the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed.
As part of the peace agreement, the ex-guerrillas were sequestered in cantonments scattered across Nepal – at least in theory – until the soldiers’ re-integration into society could be established.
Maoist leadership demanded that their high-ranking commandos be given officer status in the Nepal Army (NA).
The NA rejected this out-of-hand because their officers training and education met the highest international standards, while the guerillas had received virtually no professional training during their 10 years of underground fighting. The Maoists pressed back, insisting that Pun be given the rank of general in the NA, to no avail. The NA’s insistence on maintaining internationally-accepted army standards prevailed.
In the end, Pun took voluntary “retirement” and turned his attention to the political arena.
In November 2013, national Constituent Assembly elections were held in Nepal. Pun ran for a slot as a UCPN-Maoist party candidate in the Kathmandu-4 sector. Pun lost to the young and very popular Nepali Congress party leader Gagan Thapa.
Interestingly, shortly before the election, Pun posted a 23-minute self-promotional video on youtube entitled Who is Nanda Kishor Pun ‘Pasang’?
Pun has sought to be taken seriously as a political force ever since. He doesn’t shy away from self-promotion. In 2014 alone he posted 10 videos of himself on youtube.
In Nepal, the Vice-Presidency is vested with little real responsibility other than functioning as Head of State in the absence of the President. Likewise, the President’s role is primarily ceremonial, most often being described as the “protector of the Constitution.”
It is the Prime Minister who wields the real power in Nepal’s government.
Health-wise, it should be noted that Vice-President Pun has suffered failure of both of his kidneys. Up until now, he has declined going abroad for treatment, preferring to get medical help within the boundaries of Nepal.
The election results showed that Pun had beat out his Nepali Congress opponent, Amiya Kumar Yadav 325 to 212, a solid margin of 113 votes. Lawmakers from Madhesi parties protesting against the new constitution abstained from voting.
Unlike former Vice-President Prachanda Jha, Pun is outspokenly anti-Indian.