Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal (elected on Oct 28, 2015)
Bidhya Devi Bhandari (Nepali: विद्यादेवी भण्डारी; born 19 June 1961) is the second and current President of Nepal and the first woman to hold the office. She was the vice-chairperson of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and chair of All Nepal Women Association before winning the presidential election on 28th October, 2015. She was elected as President in a parliamentary election after receiving 327 votes out of 549, defeating Kul Bahadur Gurung. She is the former defence minister of the Government of Nepal.
Bhandari was born on 19 June 1961, in Manebhanjyang of Bhojpur, to Ram Bahadur Pandey and Mithila Pandey. She joined student politics at an early age. Bhandari is the wife of the late communist leader Madan Bhandari, known to many as a charismatic and influential leader of his time. She, however, came to limelight after the untimely demise of her husband in a road accident in 1993.
Bhandari was elected twice in parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1999 defeating the then Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Damanath Dhungana respectively. Bidhya, however, lost during the 2008 Constituent Assembly poll. She held the post of Defence Minister in Madhav Kumar Nepal led Cabinet. The party elected her under the proportional electoral system in the second CA elections in 2013.
Bhandari was active in politics since her early age. According to the details provided by the CPN-UML, Bhandari joined politics as an activist of then Youth League of CPN (ML) in 2035 BS, from Bhojpur. Bhandari played a role as an In-charge for Eastern Zone Committee of ANNFSU from 2036 to 2044 BS. Her active political journey, however, started when she received party membership from the then CPN (ML) in 2037. After completing her school level study, Bhandari was enrolled in Mahendra Morang Adrsha Multiple Campus where she was elected as a Treasurer for Federation of Students’ Union (FSU). Also, she played a pivotal role as a chairperson of women’s wing of GEFONT in 2050 BS to 2054 BS before being elected as UML central committee member in 2054 BS. Her influence in the party remained dominant when she was elected as Vice-chairperson of the party in the party’s eight general convention held in Butwal. Bhandari, who retained her vice-chairperson position in the party’s general convention, is considered as one of the confidant leaders of party Chairman and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli.
Bhandari was married to communist leader Madan Bhandari, who died in a car accident near Dasdhunga in 2050 B.S.