Nepalese prime minister rejects wealth

Sushil Koirala has surprised leaders by rebuffing his family’s inheritance in favour of a simpler way of life

Nepal’s prime minister Sushil Koirala is famed for his simple lifestyle, declaring only three mobile phones as assets, according to government website statistics published in March.

Mr Koirala became president of the Nepali Congress in 2010 and was elected as prime minister in February 2014. He is the fourth member of his family to become prime minister, but has reportedly rejected his family inheritance and continues to live a sparse life. By contrast, other ministers in the same government have reported assets worth millions.

While some people believe Mr Koirala’s perceived lack of money is negative publicity for Nepal, others have praised his simple living as a sign of honour in a world where corruption is still seen as the norm for top politicians in low and middle income countries.

Dr Sushil Koirala, Nepalese human rights activist, founder of NGO Peace for Nepal and namesake of the prime minister, hopes that Mr Koirala’s lifestyle will challenge common views of politicians and promote democratic values.

”It has been a common perception in Nepal that one needs to be corrupt and have money to win an election. This myth has been challenged by electing him to the post of prime minister,” said Dr Koirala. “The prime minister was in an influential and powerful position in the party and could have used his influence for financial or other gains, but he didn’t.”

“If this type of lifestyle is practiced by politicians in a significant number, then that could help separate the links between crime and politics, corruption and politics and strengthen democracy, transparency and rule of law,” Dr Koirala continued, adding that he also sees a message for other leaders in the prime minister’s behaviour: “It shows that simple living and dedication to the people, party and country can reward a leader and take them to power.”