A post graduate in political science, Jhala Nath Khanal was born in March 1950 in Sangejung village of tea-growing Ilam district. He joined the communist movement way back in 1969 and remained in the central leadership of the then Coordination Committee.
Khanal was elected general secretary of the then CPN-ML in 1983 and remained at helm until 1989 when Madan Bhandari took charge of
the party, which gave up violent ideology and resorted to peaceful movement to overthrow autocratic Panchayat.
Imprisoned for seven years on several occasions during the Panchayat era, Khanal, was elected twice in the parliamentary election, and took charge of the UMLâ€™s top job of general secretary in May 2008 after Madhav Kumar Nepal stepped down
owning up moral responsibility for the partyâ€™s humiliating defeat in the April 10 CA polls.
He went underground for over 12 years to expand the communist movement in the country. Khanal is one of the two standing committee members of the party to win the CA polls.
Khanal became the cabinet minister in 1991 and 1996.
Considered an intellectual personality, Khanal was chief of the partyâ€™s foreign department till he was elected general secretary in May. Married to Rabi Chitrakar, he has a son and lives in Chhauni, Kathmandu.