At a time when the party ideologically stands nowhere and remains just as a bunch of people, Nepali Congress is celebrating 37th Memorial Day of its dialogue and founding leader BP Koirala
When BP Koirala died thirty seven years ago, Nepali Congress was a no one party pleading for liberal democracy and nationalism. However, the successive leaders of Nepali Congress including his own brother Girija Prasad Koirala have pushed Nepali Congress ideologically nowhere.
Nepali Congress leaders compromised their ideals and ideology, which was championed by BP Koirala for the sake of power. When BP Koirala died, communists in Nepal were nowhere to see except in violent acts.
Thanks to Girija Prasad Koirala and his followers who are currently in politics, Nepali Communist is ruling Nepal with two third majorities. As they are observing 37th Memorial Day of BP, Nepali Congress leaders have to go for soul search and bring the party back in the ideological track followed by BP.
Given the rise of extremism, BP’s moderate ideology of liberalism is only a way out to retain the power as BP had shown distinctly placing NC is different than rest of the communist and rightist.
Eminent constitutional lawyer late Ganesh Raj Sharma, who edited a number of books of B.P. Koirala, once questioned Nepali Congress supremo Girija Prasad Koirala at his residence in Dhobidhara: Why shall the Nepalese remember the present?
Late Koirala, who was leading Nepali Congress government at that time, avoided the answer. Sharma posed this question in the context when Nepali Congress was organizing the National Reconciliation Day throughout the country, remembering late B.P. Koirala back in 2000.
Late Sharma, who had seen many ups and downs of Nepali Congress and ins and outs of its leaders, was convinced that Nepali Congress may have drawn the conclusion that there is no leader who stands for the conviction and conscience needed to uphold the ideals of democracy and nationalism.
Although B.P.’s brother late Koirala led Janandola I and II up to the declaration of Nepal as a Republican, Federal and Secular state and he was the longest serving prime minister in the history of Nepal, with almost 8 years in power in 15 years of politics, nobody noticed him.
Late Koirala, who was projected as a candidate for Nobel peace award after the latest political change, is now only in NC’s poster and NC is struggling to survive as a party after massive debacle in the elections suffered at the hands of the communist alliance.
As Nepali Congress is virtually wiped out in the first past the post system of recently held elections, NC leaders prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his junior colleagues remembered BP’s while hurling blames on one another. All the so-called new generation of NC are also responsible for the present debacle. They too contested the election by giving up BP’s ideology.
However, even 37 years after his death, people of all ages and all spectra of Nepalese politics remember B.P. Koirala, though he was in power for less than 16 months and he spared his entire life in prison or in exile in India.
Whatever the circumstances he faced, elder Koirala never compromised with his conviction on National Reconciliation and he dared to speak his conviction upholding the values of liberal democracy and nationalism. However, all his colleagues including his own brother late Koirala to the present disciple prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba sacrificed everything to go to the power.
B.P.’s colleagues reaped the benefits of power by compromising the ideals but what they lost was their personal identity. After joining hands with populist communists, sacrificing the ideals of democracy and nationalism, the same populism swept them.
“If democracy and nationalism have to be saved, we cannot afford to give in to populism. To save democracy we may at times have to take unpopular decisions and make the people accept them. Of course, that will have to be done not through autocratic methods but by convincing the people,” said B.P. Koirala in his interview to Indian journalist Bhola Chatterji.
Today, Nepali Congress stands at a crossroads, where it has to raise the slogan even radical communists like Maoist-Center and another communist party CPN-UML condemned it as violent act.
As B.P. Koirala always said that Nepali Congress will lose its identity if it gave up nationalism and democratic ideals, this is what is exactly happening to it. By launching the joint agitation with communists in 1990 against the traditional force of monarchy, Nepali Congress deviated from its ideology of reconciliation. In Janandolan II, under late GP’s leadership, Nepali Congress joined hands with violent Maoists against monarchy and liberal democracy. Even founding leader of Nepali Congress Krishna Prasad Bhattarai quit the party after this decision.
Despite declaring Nepal as a federal, democratic, secular republic, nothing has substantially changed. Nepal continues to face a series of political instability one after another. In this process, many political leaders have been swept in and out of power.
Along with the institution of monarchy, Nepali Congress and its ideology were swept away by destabilization. Whether saint Prime Minister Bhattarai or supreme leader of Janandolan I Ganesh Man Singh or supreme leader of Janandoan II GPK, no one was spared by the radical wave. Portrayed by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh following the Janandolan II as a statesman of South Asia, late Girija Prasad Koirala’s legacy, however, has already faded away.
As Nepali Congress is gradually proving itself irrelevant after compromising its ideals, the popularity of its leader B.P. Koirala and his policy of national reconciliation are going high. Nepal has changed from monarchical state to republican, unitary to federalism, but what has not changed is Nepal’s geographic location. This is where the policy of national conciliation fits so well.
The message B.P. sought to give homemade national reconciliation and national unity based on mutual trust and understanding was to give stability to nation and national leaders. However, foreign designed consensus founded on mistrust and suspicion will only push the country into prolonged political crisis.
Younger people don’t know even the name of leaders who led Janandolan I as Nepal’s political leaders have not left anything that they will be remembered for by the next generation of people. As Nepal is remembering B.P. Koirala and national reconciliation day even after four decades of his death, all the big actors of past radical political change is nowhere.
B.P. Koirala propounded national reconciliation in 1976, returning from eight years of political exile in India. However, he saw the factors of threat to the country’s existence were still there.
Although his own party Nepali Congress gave up the stand and vision laid down by B.P. Koirala, a silent majority of Nepalese still see B.P. Koirala’s vision of national reconciliation is necessary to bring stability, prosperity and national independence.