Nation wakes up to shockFormer PM and NC President Sushil Koirala, who led constitution-drafting to its conclusion, dies at 78
The country on Tuesday woke up to a shock as news of former prime minister and Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala’s death spread.
Koirala died on Tuesday at around 12:50am at his residence in Maharajgunj. He was 78.
According to his personal physician Dr Karbir Nath Yogi, Koirala died of pneumonia and high fever at 12:50am.
The veteran politician, who was part of a team involved in plane hijacking in 1973, and later jailed for the same, and who led the country as the 37th prime minister in 2014 to promulgate the constitution, was battling chronic bronchitis and other illnesses, including cancer.
He had undergone radiotherapy for lung cancer in 2014 and surgery for tongue cancer 10 years ago in the US.
The humble leader, who according to his close friends preferred to talk less, died with his personal assistant Atual Koirala and a team of doctors next to him. Of late he was gearing up for the party’s 13th General Convention and was set to run for a second term for party presidency.
Koirala was a senior figure in one of Nepal’s biggest political dynasties which gave the country three prime ministers before he took the government reins in February 2014. Koirala, who never married, led a stoic life.
He was not in the pink of health for the last one week or so, but he was not admitted to hospital. Nor were his ailing conditions reported or brought to public domain. Koirala’s final rites will be performed with state honours on Wednesday.
“His life-long devotion for Nepal’s democratic movement is ever memorable,” said President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in a statement. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who reached Koirala’s residence to pay last tribute to the maverick politician, told media persons that Koirala’s demise is a great loss to the entire country.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said losing Koirala at a time when the country was in the phase of implementing the constitution was a blow. Nepali Congress Vice President Ram Chandra Poudel said Koirala’s death has caused an irreparable loss to the country’s politics, democratic norms and values and the party.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Twitter: “NC has lost a big leader who served Nepal for decades & India lost a valued friend. Pained by his demise. RIP.”
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj arrived in Kathmandu late afternoon leading a foreign ministry delegation to pay tribute to Koirala.
Koirala’s last rites will be performed with state honour.