Surya Bahadur Thapa

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Surya Bahadur Thapa
सूर्य बहादुर थापा
Surya Bahadur Thapa at home.JPG
Surya Bahadur Thapa at his residence.
24th Prime Minister of Nepal
In office
5 June 2003 – 3 June 2004
Monarch Gyanendra
Preceded by Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Succeeded by Sher Bahadur Deuba
In office
7 October 1997 – 15 April 1998
Monarch Birendra
Preceded by Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Succeeded by Girija Prasad Koirala
In office
30 May 1979 – 12 July 1983
Monarch Birendra
Preceded by Kirti Nidhi Bista
Succeeded by Lokendra Bahadur Chand
In office
26 January 1965 – 7 April 1969
Monarch Birendra
Preceded by Tulsi Giri
Succeeded by Kirti Nidhi Bista
In office
23 December 1963 – 26 February 1964
Preceded by Tulsi Giri
Succeeded by Tulsi Giri
Personal details
Born (1928-09-03)September 3, 1928
Political party Rastriya Prajatantra Party

Surya Bahadur Thapa (Nepali: सूर्य बहादुर थापा born March 21, 1928) is a Nepalese politician. He has served as the Prime Minister of Nepal for five terms, under three different kings, in a political career lasting more than 50 years.[1] His terms were 1963-64, 1965–69, 1979–83, 1997–98 and 2003-04. Surya Bahadur Thapa had been the first Prime Minister of the Panchayat System.

Early political career[edit]

Surya Bahadur Thapa started his political career by executing "underground student movement" in 1950. In 1958, he was elected to the assembly and became Chairman of the Advisory Council. In 1959, he was elected to the Upper House.


In 1960, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forest and Industry under the newly formed Panchayat system.

In 1962, he served as Member of National Legislature and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs. In 1963, he was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Finance, Law, Justice and General Administration. During this period he was instrumental in abolishing "Land-Birta-System" and set strategies to promote land reform by onsolidating tenancy rights of the tenants.

He was also responsible to bring "Muluki-Ain", through which he attempted to eradicate the practice of an "untouchable class" and strengthen Women's Rights to vote and other social rights and activities. To this regard he promulgated laws to protect the fundamental rights of the citizen of Nepal.

In 1966, he was appointed Prime Minister under the modified constitution of Nepal. He was responsible to expand the coverage of the constitution of 1962 and promulgated 2nd amendment to make it "people oriented".

In 1967, Thapa tendered his resignation as he found that the long tenure of One-Prime-Minister was undemocratic in the development of the country. He tendered his resignation to the Nepali people over the National Radio.


In October 1972, Thapa was arrested and imprisoned in Nakhhu Jail when he demanded Political-Reform by acting up 13 point resolution which included democratic changes in the constitution and restoring rights to the people with democratic election, in the Itum-Bahal address to public meeting. He went on a 21 days hunger strike in March 1974, demanding major political reform in the country.

In 1979, Thapa was nominated to the National Panchayat System. During this period, student movement was strong against the Panchayat system. Thapa was instrumental as PM in holding people's mandate under the Royal Proclamation. The end-result was the people voted for an improved and modified Panchayat System.

In 1979, Prime-Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa provided amnesty to all exiled political leaders and was released from the prison. He also invited those living outside the country.


In May 1980 the improved Panchayat system came into effect with the introduction of adult franchise in electing the representatives, election of the Prime Minister by the elected members of the National Assembly. These were introduced in the improved constitution of the Panchayat system.

In 1981, election of the above was followed. Thapa was again democratically elected under the improved election system from the Dhankuta district. Mr. Thapa, was then elected Prime-Minister for next 5 years.

In 1983, the local, district and union election was completed under the improved election system. During the period the nation embarked into sustain ability of the development works and consolidated development programs such as Kulekhani Power System, Marshyangdi Hydro Power and Devi Ghat Hydro Power. Besides, the Arun III was studied and a blue print of the power generation was also drafted. The Teaching Hospital, Nepal Television Network, National Panchayat Building was also designed and built with regard to constitution.

In 1983, the government was toppled Thapa was ousted from the Prime-Ministership.

Between 1983-1990, Thapa made piquant remark on the National Politics of Nepal, the character of the system and urged the people to be characteristic, disciplined yet firm to restructure the national development of the country. Thapa bitterly criticized those adverse political forces and gangsters who wanted to doom the fate of the nation by misguiding people and central level authorities. He urged the people to condemn such activities in order to strengthen the political and economic development process in the country.

Thapa's statements were quoted on many leading national newspapers. There was an attempt to assassinate one of the editors (Padam Thakurathi) who widely covered Mr. Thapa's views.

The editor was shot and lost an eye. An attempt was made to assassinate Mr. Thapa while traveling through Jhallari, West Nepal where he was protected by the local people to save his life. (This incident is known as Jhallari-Kanda).

In 1985, the nation faced the Bomb-Scandal. Surya Bahadur Thapa was charged for the bomb explosion. The explosion of the bomb in Rastriya Panchyat Building led to death of one parliament member and caused damages to the building. Mr.Thapa's house was ransacked by the police but the government could not prove the charges.


In 1990, Multi-Party system came into being. Thapa started the Rastriya Prajantra Party (RPP) and became the Chairman of the party.

In 1991, local resident affiliated with Communist parties made an attempt to assassinate Thapa during his public address at Banepa of the Kavrepalanchok District.

In 1991 election, he was not allowed to address the people and his vote booth was captured forcing him to lose the election.

In 1994, Thapa was democratically elected to the Party Chief for the next 4 years.

In 1994 mid-term election, Thapa was democratically elected to the House of Representatives from his home town Dhankuta District.

Elected Prime Minister of Nepal for the third time by the House of Representatives, Thapa led the NDP/NC/NSP coalition government in October 1997.

In 1997, he was elected the Chairman of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party for the second term

In 1998, he resigned from the Prime Ministership paving the way for the Nepali Congress to form the Government as per the agreed terms and conditions.

In 1999, he was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives and Leader of Parliamentary Party (RPP)

2000 to 2003[edit]

In 2002, presided over the 3rd National Convention of RPP in Pokhara and paved the way for new leadership within the RPP Party.

In June 2003, Surya Bahadur Thapa was once again appointed Prime Minister of Nepal for the sixth time. He led a six member cabinet team. During his tenure as Prime Minister he also held the additional portfolio as Defense Minister. Under his tenure the Government also offered the Maoists for the first time, a 75 point socio-economic and political reform package during the peace talks.

Unfortunately, the peace talks failed. To counter the persistent bloody attacks on the Police, Army, Armed Security Personnel and innocent civilians, Mr.Thapa then set up the historic Unified Command, under which the police, army and armed security functioned as a cohesive team to combat terrorism in the country. During his tenure he secured arms, military hardware and aircraft for the army from donor countries (India, USA and Great Britain) as military aid. This also included training programs for the armed forces. Unlike his predecessors, he remained adamant that no commissions should be made on arms, when the country was reeling under civil war. Thus all arms procured during this period straight under grant aid.

During this period Nepal also was granted active membership to the World Trade Organization.

During this period Mr. Thapa also initiated the establishment of a separate Peace Secretariat to facilitate the peace dialogues.

For the first time in the history of Nepal, the Government offered women special reservations and quotas in government, in the Public Service Commission. Special quotas were also provided to the under-privileged Dalits and Janajatis for higher education.

During this period an attempt was made to reinstate the dissolved local bodies across the country, as election at that stage was not possible. Therefore, dissolved local body members were reinstated where possible and in other places, people were nominated with consensus of the other political parties.

In November 2003, PM Thapa as the Chairman of the SAARC, urged the Indian PMMr.Vajpaye and Pakistani President Mr.Jamali to participate in the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. His active participation and persuasion as the SAARC Chairman brought both these nuclear countries to attend the summit. Mr.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.

2004 to 2006[edit]

On 7 May 2004, Mr.Thapa resigned due to a street protests staged by the 5 party alliance. Not a single protestor was killed during these violent protests in which public and government properties were vandalized. In his resignation speech to the nation he insisted that he would still play an active role to forge national consensus. Mr. Thapa lead a caretaker government for 25 days as the parties failed to nominate a consensual individual to the post of the Prime Minister.

On the 6th of August 2004, Mr.Thapa made his first public statement after his resignation from the post of the Prime Minister. He publicly criticized some NGO's and figures in the civil society for being sympathetic towards the Maoists. He is critical of the RPP Chairman, Mr. Pashupati Rana for steering the RPP, from its original principles, independence and the democratic status it had achieved. Mr.Thapa challenged the party leadership and announced that he would take every measure to make the party more democratic and independent. Mr. Thapa openly asked the party leadership to call for a Special General Convention. The Special General Convention has not been called till this date.

Mr. Thapa proposed the Broader national Political Conference amomgst all democratic political parties, civil society which aims to give birth to an alternative democratic force in the country against the threat posed by the new Maoist government.

Rastriya Janshakti Party (RJP) emerged from a split in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, as Thapa left RPP on November 4, 2004. Thapa had been a founder of RPP in 1990. 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 'broad political conference' was, however, postponed due to the imposition of Emergency rule by King Gyanendra on February 1, 2005.

RJP had expressed differences with King Gyanendra after the February 1, 2005 coup, over issues like 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.[12][13]

RJP boycotted the 2006 municipal election.

During the Loktantra Andolan, the RJP suggested that the King Gyanendra would initiate talks with 'constitutional forces'.When the King was stripped of his political powers by the interim parliament, RJP did not object.In November 2006, the Prajatantrik Nepal Party led by Keshar Bahadur Bista merged into RJP. Bista became general secretary of RJP

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

2007 to 2009[edit]

In April 2007, the party dropped the term 'constitutional monarchy' from its party statue.

On February 15, 2008, RJP formed the Samyukta Samabeshi Morcha, a front of 'monarchist and democratic forces', along with Nepali Rastriya Janabhavana Party, Rastriya Janamukti Party and Rastriya Jana Ekta Party.

On February 19, 2008, RJP had called for an election boycott, claiming that the situation in Madhes made elections impossible to hold as their demand was not met by the SPA-Maoist Government. After an agreement was reached between United Democratic Madhesi Front and the Government of Nepal on February 27, 2008, and the UDMF parties pledge to contest the CA polls, the RJP declared that it would participate as well.

On March 6, 2008, Thapa 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'.

At the elections to the Constituent Assembly, the RJP received 79,925 votes (0.77%) in the constituency vote, winning no seats. With 102,147 votes (0.95%) in the party list vote the RJP won three seats to the Assembly.

On 6 February, 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.


  • He also Honored with “Proud Past Alumni" in the list of 42 members, from "Allahabad University Alumni Association", NCR, Ghaziabad (Greater Noida) Chapter 2007-2008 registered under society act 1860 with registration no. 407/2000.[2][3][4]


  • Nepal Shreepada, I Class
  • Order of Tri Shakti Patta (Three Divine Powers), Member First Class (Jyotirmaya-Subikhyat-Tri-Shakti-Patta), 1963
  • Order of Gorkha Dakshina Bahu (Gurkha Right Hand), Member First Class (Suprasidha-Prabala-Gorkha-Dakshina-Bahu), 1965
  • Vishesh Sewa Padak
  • Daibi-Prakob Piditoddar Padak, 1968
  • Subha-Rajya-Vishek Padak, 1975
  • Order of Om Ram Patta 1980
  • Birendra Aishwarya Sewa Padak, 2002



Political offices
Preceded by
Tulsi Giri
Prime Minister of Nepal
1963 – 1964
Succeeded by
Tulsi Giri
Preceded by
Tulsi Giri
Prime Minister of Nepal
1965 – 1969
Succeeded by
Kirti Nidhi Bista
Preceded by
Kirti Nidhi Bista
Prime Minister of Nepal
1979 – 1983
Succeeded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Preceded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister of Nepal
1997 – 1998
Succeeded by
Girija Prasad Koirala
Preceded by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister of Nepal
2003 – 2004
Succeeded by
Sher Bahadur Deuba