Who is Bidya Devi Bhandari?

KATHMANDU: Nepal's newly elected President Bidya Devi Bhandari was born in Guranse village of Bhojpur district on June 19, 1961.

She had begun her political career from a leftist student union in late 1970s. She got membership of the then CPN-ML in 1980-81, around two years before she tied the conjugal knot with the famed Communist leader Madan Kumar Bhandari.

Madan Kumar, who was later elected General Secretary of the then CPN-ML and also of the unified CPN-UML, propounded Janatako Bahudaliya Janawad (People's Multiparty Democracy), the guiding principle of today's UML.

The leader is also attributed for popularising Nepal's Communist movement to a new height.

But, the most popular Communist leader of the nation during the time died in a jeep accident in Dasdhunga of Chitwan on 16 May, 1993.  After the yet-to-be-solved mysterious accident, which many people still believe was a murder, the seat of Member of Parliament from Kathmandu-1 was vacant.

Bhandari contested in the by-election to fill the vacancy and she won the race, defeating the former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai of Nepali Congress.

She served as a Member of the Parliament for a year.

Bhandari also won two subsequent parliamentary elections from Kathmandu-2 in 1994 and 1999.

In the 1994 elections, she had defeated Nepali Congress candidate Daman Nath Dhungana. Dhungana was speaker of the House of Representatives before the elections.

She was a member of the Interim Parliament formed after the 2006 Janaandolan II.

The UML leader was the Minister for Defence in the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government from May 25, 2009 until February 6, 2011. Earlier in 1990s, she was once appointed the Minister for Environment and Population.

She has been leading the party's sister organisation, All Nepal Women Association, for nearly two decades.

She was elected Vice-Chairperson of the party from its eighth and ninth conventions in February 2009 and July 2014 respectively. She was a Central Committee member of the party since its sixth national convention in January 1998.

Bhandari lost the first Constituent Assembly elections from Kathmandu-4 to Nepali Congress candidate Suprabha Ghimire in 2008. She, however, was elected to the Constitution-writing body in the second CA elections held in November 2013 under the Proportional Representation (PR) system.