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Who is Rabindra Mishra? Why is he making headlines in Nepal?

Every Wednesday at 9 pm local time, the BBC’s Nepali Service airs an interview-format programme. The programme, ‘Nepal Sandarbha’ (‘Nepali Context’), had become synonymous with one name, Rabindra Mishra, the BBC’s Nepali Service Editor.

Mishra’s pointed questions and ‘cross-examination’ was a hit among the listeners who would write to the BBC to commend his interviews. However, last night (Wednesday, March 1), it was someone else who was who was running Nepal Sandarbha show.

The reason: Mishra quit the BBC just the previous day to launch his own political party, ‘Sajha’ (Common).

When Mishra announced his resignation from one of the most reputed media houses in the world, with which he was associated for over 22 years, his boss had one thing to say to him: You are taking a big leap of faith.

Mishra’s boss quite aptly sums up the first few pages of Mishra’s foray into politics.

Born to a family in Kathmandu, Mishra spent most of his childhood in one of Nepal’s remotest corners, Darchula and Doti. “My uncle was a government employee, and that is why I studied in government schools in Darchula and Doti,” says Mishra, the son of literateur and artist Manujbabu Mishra, who has ‘confined’ himself to his own quarters for the last 25 years. The senior Mishra has remained away from the outside world to the extent that he even skipped the launch of his own biography.

Mishra completed his Master’s degree in English Literature from Tribhuvan University and earned his second degree in Journalism in Pakistan. While in Pakistan, he worked at The News International newspaper for over one-and-a- half years. During his stay in Pakistan, he filed reports for the BBC during 1993 general elections. Within a few months, Mishra was in London, working for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

By early 2000, his was the most recognised voice on the BBC’s Nepali Service. Mishra says he did not consider a career in politics until 2002 when he graduated from London University with a degree in International Politics. But slowly the idea of joining politics full-time grew on him, and he decided to quit his BBC job, which entailed a ‘secure’ life for himself and his family.

Mishra says he has never been aligned with any political party in any stage of his life. It was around four years ago that Mishra toyed with the idea seriously. When he announced his resignation to enter politics, his colleagues were not surprised at all. “My colleagues know that Rabindra Mishra is someone who loves his country, and he can, at any point of time, sacrifice his life or profession for the country,” he told Onlinekhabar.

“Many of my readers and well-wishers know very well how strongly I have continued to argue, along with numerous like-minded friends, that transforming Nepal within our lifetime is impossible without first laying the foundation for cultured politics. Such a foundation, we have argued, should be based upon four pillars: System, Transparency, Integrity and Meritocracy (or STEM, in short) and should be within the ambit of constitutional and inclusive democracy,” he said in a statement.

But Mishra understands all too well that politics is a game which does not know the language of sacrifice and principles. Although Mishra may have the will and determination to move ahead, it sure will not be easy. There are others running the political show here.

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