Who is Bidhya Devi Bhandari?
- Bidhya Devi Bhandari was born in the Guranse village in the Bhojpur District in 1961.
- She began her political career from a leftist students' union in the late-1970s. She retired from active politics after she married Madan Kumar Bhandari, then leader of CPN-UML.
- After Madan Bhandari's unsolved fatal car accident in 1993, she returned to mainstream politics.
- She is an active women's rights activist.
Madan Bhandari's death
The car crash in 1993 which killed Madan Bhandari was widely believed to be a political murder in Nepal. The only survivor, the driver, was murdered 10 years later, fuelling controversy regarding Madan Bhandari's death.
Bhandari's political achievements
- Bhandari won two subsequent parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1999, defeating former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Nepali Congress candidate Daman Nath Dhungana respectively.
- She played an active part in the anti-monarchy demonstrations of 2006, and was a member of the Interim Parliament formed after the 2006 Janandolan II.
- She served as Minister of Defence in the Madhav-Kumar led government from 2009-2011.
Nepal's new Constitution
After the end of King Gyanendra's reign in 2006, there was an Interim Constitution 2007 onwards to oversee the democratic transition. Initially expected to take two years to write, Nepal's new Constitution was finally promulgated on 20 September 2015.
Bhandari and women's rights
- Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been leading the All Nepal Women's Association (ANWA) for nearly two decades.
- ANWA, whose main aim is "to empower and liberate women", is the largest national women's organization in Nepal.
- She was among the politicians who campaigned to ensure women's rights in Nepal's new Constitution.
- The Constitution now requires one-third of MPs, and either President or Vice-President to be female.
Women in Nepali politics
Bidhya Devi Bhandari, a breast cancer survivor, became the second Nepali woman to be elected in a senior political position. Onsari Gharti Magar, elected a month back, became Nepal's first female Parliament Speaker.
Nepal elects its first female President
- Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected as the first female President of Nepal, defeating Nepali Congress veteran Kul Bahadur Gurung.
- Bhandari is the vice-chairperson of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), a party led by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, who was elected earlier in the month.
- The President is the ceremonial head in Nepal, while the Prime Minister is the nation's leader.
2015 Presidential Elections in Nepal
Out of Nepal's 597 members of parliament, 47 were absent during election and 1 was suspended. Out of the remaining 549 votes, 8 votes were declared invalid. Of the remaining 541 votes, Bhandari secured 327 against Gurung's 214.
Opposition up in arms over Constitution amendment
- Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari called for an all-party meet to discuss amending the country's constitution because of pressure from the Madhesi community.
- India welcomed the move for greater inclusion of Madhesis; however, the CPN-UML's student wing broke out into protests outside the Indian Embassy, accusing India of interfering in Nepal's internal politics.
- India has long been accused of manipulating Nepali politics.