KATHMANDU: After an old boy of Bihar’s Goenka College, Madhav Kumar Nepal, became the new prime minister of Nepal, it is now the turn of an alumna of West Bengal’s Shantiniketan to become the Himalayan republic’s new foreign minister.
Sujata Koirala, the of former Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, is poised to lead her and her’s Nepali Congress (NC) party into the cabinet with the 55-year-old expected to get the coveted foreign ministry.
With Sujata, who has been likened to Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto and Sheikh Hasina, Nepal will also see the rise of the daughter. Having joined active politics almost 18 years ago, she had earlier served a short stint as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office when her father led the government.
Once stunningly beautiful, Sujata is the aunt of Manisha Koirala, who carved out a niche in Bollywood with her talent and ethereal beauty. “I was moulded in my childhood by a Bengali family of doctors who nurtured my interest in the works of Rabindranath Tagore,” Sujata told TNN.
When her father was jailed by King Mahendra’s government during the party-less panchayat system of government, Sujata’s Sushma decided to send her to the Patha Bhavan school in Shantiniketan. After completing school, Sujata studied Fine Arts at Viswa Bharati’s Kala Niketan.
“I received tremendous there,” she says. “The atmosphere was very intellectual and everyone knew my father and uncle B P Koirala (Nepal’s first elected prime minister).” It was there that as a teenage student she met Indira Gandhi and sought New Delhi’s help for the pro-democracy movement in Nepal.
“The NC sent me a letter from Kolkata,” she says. “I was asked to hand it over to Indira Gandhi who came to Viswa Bharati as ex officio chancellor. I was also told to seek the Indian government’s help to pressure Nepal into releasing my jailed father.”
Sujata’s rise after being defeated in the election last year is said to have caused some heartburns among senior NC leaders who were hoping to be named Koirala’s successor. She also caused some controversy in the past when she suggested that Nepal should keep its king since that was a unique socio-cultural characteristic of the country.
The mother of two says she would give priority to writing a new constitution by next year, development and stability as well as nurturing good relations with all foreign governments.