Surya Bahadur Thapa

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Surya Bahadur Thapa
सूर्य बहादुर थापा
Surya Bahadur Thapa 2005-11-24.jpg
Surya Bahadur Thapa at his residence in 2005.
24th Prime Minister of Nepal
In office
June 5, 2003 September 4, 2004
Monarch King Gyanendra
Preceded by Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Succeeded by Sher Bahadur Deuba
In office
October 7, 1997 April 15, 1998
Monarch King Birendra
Preceded byLokendra Bahadur Chand
Succeeded by Girija Prasad Koirala
In office
May 30, 1979 July 12, 1983
MonarchKing Birendra
Preceded by Kirti Nidhi Bista
Succeeded byLokendra Bahadur Chand
In office
January 26, 1965 April 7, 1969
MonarchKing Birendra
Preceded by Tulsi Giri
Succeeded byKirti Nidhi Bista
In office
December 23, 1963 February 26, 1964
Preceded byTulsi Giri
Succeeded byTulsi Giri
Personal details
Born(1928-03-21)21 March 1928 [1]
Muga, Dhankuta, Nepal
Died15 April 2015(2015-04-15) (aged 87)
Delhi, India
Political party Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Rastriya Janashakti Party
Alma mater Allahabad University

Surya Bahadur Thapa (Nepali : सूर्य बहादुर थापा; March 21, 1928 – April 15, 2015) was the only Nepali politician a five-time Prime Minister of Nepal. He served under three different kings in a political career lasting more than 50 years.

Nepali language Indo-Aryan (Pahari) and official language of Nepal

Nepali, known by the endonym Khas Kura also known as Gorkhali or Parbatiya, is an Indo-Aryan language of the sub-branch of Eastern Pahari. It is the official language of Nepal and one of the 22 official languages of India. It is spoken mainly in Nepal and by about a quarter of the population in Bhutan. In India, Nepali is listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution as a language of India, with official status in the state of Sikkim, and spoken in Northeast Indian states such as Assam and in West Bengal's Darjeeling district. It is also spoken in Burma and by the Nepali diaspora worldwide. Nepali developed in proximity to a number of Indo-Aryan languages, most notably the other Pahari languages and Maithili, and shows Sanskrit influence. However, owing to Nepal's location, it has also been influenced by Tibeto-Burman languages. Nepali is mainly differentiated from Central Pahari, both in grammar and vocabulary, by Tibeto-Burman idioms owing to close contact with this language group.


He was elected to the Upper house in 1959 and was appointed to the chair of the Council of Ministers from 1963–64. He went on to serve four further terms: 1965–69, 1979–83, 1997–98, and again in 2003 before leaving his Rastriya Prajatantra Party in November 2004. [2]

Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepalese political party

The Rastriya Prajatantra Party is a royalist political party in Nepal. It was formed by former Prime Ministers, Surya Bahadur Thapa and Lokendra Bahadur Chand. The party has had two Prime Ministers, Thapa and Chand, serving two terms each since the end of the Rastriya Panchayat.

Surya Thapa was the first Prime Minister under the Panchayat System of Nepal. In his later years, he was the leader of Rastriya Janashakti Party. He died on 15 April 2015 from respiratory failure while undergoing surgery.

Panchayat was the political system of Nepal from 1960 to 1990. It was based on the Panchayat system of self-governance historically prevalent in South Asia.

Rastriya Janashakti Party is a liberal political party in Nepal, led by former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa. Thapa had split away from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party in November 2004. The party is registered with the Election Commission of Nepal in March 2005.


Surya Bahadur Thapa at his residence Surya Bahadur Thapa at home.JPG
Surya Bahadur Thapa at his residence

Surya Bahadur Thapa was born on March 21, 1928, in the village of Muga in Dhankuta district. [2] He began his political career in the underground student movement in 1950. In November 1958, he was elected to the national assembly as an independent, and became Chairman of the Advisory Council. [3] In 1959, Thapa was elected to the Upper House. He was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forest and Industry under the newly formed Panchayat system. Subsequently, he served as Member of National Legislature and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.

Dhankuta City in Koshi Zone, Nepal

Dhankuta is a hill town and the headquarter of Koshi Zone located in Dhankuta District of Eastern Nepal. According to 2011 Nepal census, it has population of 26,440 inhabitants.

First term

Despite not even standing for election in 1963, Thapa was nominated to the National Panchyat by King Mahendra and was appointed chair of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Finance, Law, Justice and General Administration. [4] During this period he was instrumental in abolishing "Land-Birta-System" and set strategies to promote land reform by consolidating tenancy rights of the tenants. Thapa was responsible for "Muluki-Ain", through which he attempted to eradicate the practice of an untouchable caste and promote women's suffrage, among other social activism.

Mahendra of Nepal King of Nepal

Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was King of Nepal from 1955 to 1972.Mahendra was born 11 June 1920 to King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal. Although Tribhuvan was nominally king since 1911. Mahendra was captive in Narayanhity Royal Palace, virtually a gilded cage. In 1940 he married Indra Rajya Lakshmi Devi,[5][6] daughter of General Hari Shamsher Rana. Mahendra had 4 sons, Ravindra - from "Geeta Gurung", Birendra, Gyanendra, Dhirendra and three daughters Shanti, Sharada, and Shobha. Crown Princess Indra died in 1950. In 1952, Mahendra married Indra's younger sister, Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Devi. This marriage produced no children.

Second term

In 1966, Thapa was again appointed Prime Minister under the modified Constitution of Nepal. He was responsible for expanding the coverage of the constitution of 1962, and promulgated its second amendment to make it "people oriented". [5] In 1967, Thapa tendered his resignation, saying that the long tenure of one prime minister was undemocratic in the development of the country. [6]

Third term

In October 1972, Thapa was arrested and imprisoned in Nakhhu Jail when he demanded political reform in his Itum-Bahal public address. The speech promoted a 13-point resolution, which included democratic changes in the Constitution and restoring rights to the people with democratic elections. He went on a 21-day hunger strike in March 1974, demanding major political reform in the country. [2]

After pro-democracy demonstrations in 1979, Nepali voters chose to uphold the Panchayat system in a referendum in 1980, and King Birendra appointed Thapa Prime Minister on June 1, 1980. [7] The referendum was accompanied by a general amnesty for political prisoners. [8]

Thapa maintained the position through a parliamentary election in 1981. [7] After serving a further two years, he resigned in 1983 when his government lost a no confidence vote. [7] [8]

Between 1983–1990, Thapa often spoke on politics, criticizing those who were against democratic reform and urging the strengthening of political and economic development processes in the country. [9] Thapa's statements were quoted in many leading national newspapers. There was an attempt to assassinate one of the editors (Padam Thakurathi) who published Thapa's views. [10] [11] An attempt was made to assassinate Thapa himself while he was traveling through Jhallari, West Nepal. [9]

Former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa (left) with Rastriya Prajatantra Party politician Pashupati Shumsher JBR. Pashu and Surya.jpg
Former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa (left) with Rastriya Prajatantra Party politician Pashupati Shumsher JBR.

Fourth term

In 1990, the People's Movement led to the institution of a constitutional democracy system of government with multiple political parties. Thapa started the Rastriya Prajantra Party (RPP) and was elected chairman of the party four years later. [12] The party did not win the 1991 or 1994 elections, but after two successive governments suffered no-confidence motions within a year, King Birendra asked Thapa to form a new coalition government on October 7, 1997. [7] [13] The next February, Thapa’s government survived a no-confidence vote, ending the year-long constitutional crisis. Thapa then conceded the prime ministership to his coalition partner, Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress. [14]

Fifth and Final term

In 2002, Thapa presided over the Third National Convention of RPP in Pokhara which paved the way for new leadership within the RPP Party.[ citation needed ] In June 2003, he was appointed Prime Minister of Nepal for the sixth time. [15] During this tenure as prime Minister, he also held the Defense Minister position. Under Thapa, the government offered women special reservations and quotas in government for the first time, via the Public Service Commission. Special quotas were also provided to the under-privileged Dalits and Janajatis for higher education. [16]

Under Thapa's tenure, the government offered the Maoists a 75-point socio-economic and political reform package during peace talks. However, the peace talks failed. To counter the persistent bloody attacks on the police, army, and civilians, Thapa set up the Unified Command. Under the program, the police, army, and armed security functioned as a cohesive team to combat terrorism in the country. Thapa secured arms, military hardware, and aircraft for the army from donor countries (India, USA, and Great Britain) as military aid. [17] When the country was reeling under civil war, he remained adamant that no commissions should be made on arms, unlike his predecessors. All arms procured during this period were under grant aid. [18]

In November 2003, Thapa as the Chairman of the SAARC, urged the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Zafarullah Khan Jamali to participate in the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. His active participation and persuasion as the SAARC Chairman brought both these nuclear countries to table at the summit. Thapa also became the first Nepali Prime Minister to make an official visit to the Druk Kingdom of Bhutan. Several bilateral agreements were initiated with the SAARC countries during this historic visit. [19]


On May 7, 2004, Thapa resigned after to a street protest staged by the five party alliance. In his resignation speech to the nation, he insisted that he would continue to play an active role to forge national consensus. Thapa lead a caretaker government for 25 days as the parties failed to nominate a consensual individual to the post of the prime minister. He officially stepped down on June 2. [20]

In August 2004, Thapa made his first public statement after his resignation, asking the party leadership to call for a Special General Convention. The Special General Convention was never called, however. [21] Thapa then proposed the Broader National Political Conference amongst all democratic political parties in order to create an alternative democratic force in the country against the new Maoist government. [22]

Rastriya Janshakti Party emerged from a split in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, as Thapa left RPP on November 4, 2004. On November 19, 2004, Thapa and his followers opened a contact office in Balutwar, Kathmandu, to organise a "broad political conference" and coordinate the construction of a new party. The RJP was founded on March 13, 2005. The political conference was, however, postponed due to the imposition of emergency rule by King Gyanendra on February 1, 2005. [23]

RJP had expressed differences with King Gyanendra after the February 1, 2005, coup on political appointments in the local administrations. RJP accused the King of eliminating the forces working for constitutional monarchy, through his political actions. At the time, RJP tried to profile itself as a centrist party, in between positions advocating direct monarchical rule and republic. During the Loktantra Andolan, the RJP suggested that the King Gyanendra would initiate talks with constitutional forces. [24] When the King was stripped of his political powers by the interim parliament, RJP did not object, and in November 2006, the Prajatantrik Nepal Party led by Keshar Bahadur Bista merged into RJP.[ citation needed ]

Ahead of the Constituent Assembly election, RJP proposed having a mixed election system, with 75 district representatives and 230 members elected through proportional representation. The party also proposed creating an "Ethnic Assembly" as the upper house of parliament.

Later years and death

Thapa on his 86th birthday Surya bahadur thapa.jpeg
Thapa on his 86th birthday

On February 6, 2008, Thapa initiated unity talks with the leader of RPP, Pashupati Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. In a joint press conference, both Thapa and Rana agreed to unite RJP-RPP as one single party. [25] On March 6, he declared that his party was not monarchist, but would accept the verdict of the voters. RJP MPs had previously boycotted a vote in the interim parliament on making Nepal a republic. Thapa had dubbed the vote "an attack on the fundamental norms of democracy". [26]

Thapa died on April 15, 2015, aged 87 in Delhi, India, from respiratory failure while undergoing surgery. [27] [28] He is survived by three daughters and a son, Sunil Bahadur Thapa, Nepal's minister of commerce and supply. [29]




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Political offices
Preceded by
Tulsi Giri
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Tulsi Giri
Preceded by
Tulsi Giri
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Kirti Nidhi Bista
Preceded by
Kirti Nidhi Bista
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Preceded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Girija Prasad Koirala
Preceded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister of Nepal
Succeeded by
Sher Bahadur Deuba