It is great news and a significant milestone in Nepal’s history as 54-year old women’s right campaigner, Bidhya Devi Bahndari, was elected by parliament as the nation’s 2nd democratic and 1st lady president.
Currently the deputy chairperson of United Marxist Leninist, Nepal’s ruling communist party, the nation’s defense minister between 2009 and 2011 has assured the nation that she will defend the rights of the minority and women.
First Great News
This will surely come as great news to both the minority and women whose rights she has promised defending. This is because they all know how close she is to the newly elected Prime Minister, KP Sharma Oli, who also happens to be a comrade in the same supposedly communist party. Although Nepal’s political arena and society is mainly male-dominated, the elected president has for a long time been a political activist in their midst.
She labored subversively during the nation’s pre-democracy years but was only elected to parliament after the strange car crash death of her husband. Citing her support for citizenship laws which many claim are anti-female, several people feel her feminist credentials need to be cross checked. But whatever opinion people might hold, it is a fact that she aided in ensuring that women were given a one third quota in Nepal’s parliament.
Second Great News
For those that distrust her feminist credentials, they also have some form of relief. Even though she is president and chief commander of the armed forces, she can hardly play extreme politics as her role or position is mainly ceremonial and does not pull much weight in the nation’s overall polity. After all, her predecessor, Ram Baran Yadav, the country’s first elected president who came into power in 2008, did not have the chance to play extreme politics too.
Another thing is that she assumes power at a critical moment when playing politics might not be her priority. It will be remembered that Nepal introduced its new country-stabilizing constitution in September. The move did not go down well with some people so violence that claimed around forty lives erupted. This is as southern ethnic groups desired more rights, autonomy and territory for ethnic federal states.
All citizens of Nepal whether minority, women or those who distrust the elected president’s feminist credentials, all have some great news to be happy about. For the first group, theirs is that she has assured them of their rights being guarded. For the other, since her office is mainly ceremonial, there is hardly any extreme politics she can play.