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When a Prime Minister Kept his Word…

The first car I ever had was Toyota Corolla. It was a second-hand fully reconditioned, fully furnished car with brand new national stereo.


The car was directly imported from Japan. The Nepal government had given special permission for duty free import of car. I was the only journalist in Nepal to be given this facility as one time exception.

Many journalists applied for duty-free import of car citing my example.But it was turned down on the ground that there is no such rule and case of Harish Segon was one time exception.


Let me narrate the full story. Democracy had been restored in Nepal and Krishan Pratap Bhattarai became its first prime minister. Once I was sitting in his official residence having tea.


He asked me suddenly, Harish ji, you have to travel a lot as a correspondent covering various events. Why don’t you buy a car. It would make your work easier.

My reply was, Krishan ji, cars are too costly in Nepal and beyond my reach. How is it, he asked, that all officers in Indian embassy have a car. I said, well, they are entitled to duty free import, Iam not.


Harish ji, he said, you start procedure for buying car, I will give you permission for duty free import.


I said think over it once again sir, there is no such rule. His reply was, do not worry. I selected a second hand, reconditioned car, to be imported from Japan, and paid 4500 dollars as its price. I handed over a copy of papers to Bhattarai. Soon,general elections were held in Nepal. Bhattarai contested the election from his Kathmandu constituency and lost to his communist rival.


I went to meet him at his official residence and he greeted me in his usual warm way and ordered some tea. His first words were do not worry Harish ji, your car would definitely come. After all I am still the Nepali Congress President.


After that, we started discussing election results. It was really irony of fate that Nepali Congress should win while its leader loses his seat.


Discussion veered round to who should be next prime minister of Nepal? Bhattarai revealed to me that Girija babu, meaning Girija Prasad koirala, will hold this post.This has been decided but will be announced only in the evening. I asked him should I file the story. He said with a grin go ahead but do not qoute me as source.


As soon as Girija Prashad Koirala became Prime Minister, Bhattarai took me to Koirala, and gave him copy of my papers.


He took promise from him that my car will come duty free. Koirala kept his word and orders were issued for import of my car with clear writing on the file, One Time Exception.


Krishan Pratap Bhattarai was a gentle, humble and committed person. We became good friends during the movement for restoration of democracy in the himalayan kingdom. We used to have tea together on the roadside shops and discuss happenings in the country.

After democracy was restored in Nepal, Krishan Pratap Bhattarai become its first prime minister.

He lived in a simple ordinary house before becoming the prime minister. I went to his house for his first interview. Several nepali congress leaders as well as leaders from other parties were there to congratulate him. I still remember, he took me to a small room where an old steel box was laying.

We made it a table, I placed my recorder and mike over it and we were ready for the interview.


After a few days, he shifted to his official residence, which was walking distance away from my house. During the initial period of my posting to Kathmandu, I had no conveyance.


One day, I was walking from Indian Embassy towards my home in Lazem Pet, when the prime minister crossed me in his official car with security.

The car stopped a few meters from where I was standing. He lowered his window glass and gestured me to come calling my name.


I went up to him and said, what are doing dear friend, you are now the prime minister of Nepal.

He just parried my question, beckoned me to come inside car saying I will drop you at your residence, it is just on way. I requested him to come in to my residence for a cup of tea. Without any hesitation, he came in had a cup of tea and left.


Such was my friend Krishn Pratap Bhattarai.


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