Koirala Ensures Victory For Democracy, Not Maoist Extremism In Nepal

When the seven party alliance that has been ruling Nepal since the successful Jana Andolan II (people's movement) of April 24, 2006 re-unanimously elected Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala as the Prime Minister once again after the Maoists too joined his government on April 1

When the seven party alliance that has been ruling Nepal since the successful Jana Andolan II (people's movement) of April 24, 2006 re-unanimously elected Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala as the Prime Minister once again after the Maoists too joined his government on April 1, 2007, this 84-year old president of the Nepali Congress ensured that Nepal will adopt Parliamentary democracy as its polity and not Maoists extremism.

Not only that, Girijababu, one of the most senior socialist leader in the world today, ensured that in case he is no more in the scene?he is old and does not enjoy good health ?his successor in the Government will be a leader of his party and none else. The man he chose and allotted him number two slot in the 22-member Council of Ministers is Ram Chandra Poudel, General Secretary of the Nepali Congress party.

Thirdly, he did not nominate a single close relation to this Government, although names of his daughter Sujata, his nephews Sushil and Shekhar Koirala and his distant relation Chakra Prasad Banstola, all capable politicians in their own right, were doing the rounds till the announcement of the new Government at about 1.30 p.m. local time on April 1.

Fourthly, he did not drop Mr. Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the Home Minister in the outgoing Government, despite tremendous pressure exerted on him by the rebels in the Terai regions who are continuing with their violent opposition against discrimination of the "Madheshis" by the "Pahadis" of Nepal. Not only that, he allotted the same portfolio to Mr. Sitaula, demonstrating that he would not buckle under pressure either from the Maoists or from the Madheshis (people living along the southern plains of Nepal). The Maoists, who consider themselves the victor in the Jana Andolan II of last year, had been putting tremendous pressure on him to allot the second slot in the cabinet after the Nepali Congress.

This he steadfastly refused, and actually allotted the fourth slot to the leader of the Maoists in his cabinet, Krishna Prasad Mahara, behind the Communist Patty of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist, in short, the UML) which party had played a supplementary role in the restoration of parliamentary democracy along with the Nepali Congress in the year 1990 (Jana Andolan I).

The message he gave to Maoists and the world is that those having faith in Parliamentary Democracy will rule Nepal, as he had done in 199o,by not aligning with the UML, which had originally believed in, violent means in order to end the autocratic Panchayati system in the general elections in May 1991,although he had agreed to the UML joining the interim government formed after the success of the Jana Andolan I. His senior colleague Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, had headed that government.

The Nepali Congress, formally launched in April 1950 at Kolkata in order to launch movements for ending the autocratic Rana regime of 104 years, is a Socialist party and is affiliated to the Socialist International of which Germany's SPD is a prominent member. Mr. Koirala's ideology came into full play during the most recent upheaval in Nepal's polity. This is a lesson, for India, too where Parliamentary democracy had been violated at one time and where nepotism in the general rule, and not an exception among political families.

Having said all these, it must also be mentioned that the crown Mr. Koirala adorned on April 1, is one of thorns. The country's economy is in shatters, a new challenge in the form of violent agitations by the normally docile "Madhesi" people has raised its head, carving out regions or provinces in the country in order to provide representations to most ethnic groups before the general elections for the Constituent Assembly are held on June 20 in order to make Nepal a federal country, are his immediate problems.

Besides, despite denial by the Maoists that they had not retained any weapons they had acquired during the ten years of insurgency against the royal government that had resulted in the death of 13,000 young men and women on both sides, doubts linger about the truthfulness of this claim.

Finally, while in April 2006, the world had hailed the role of the Maoists-who believe in the adage power flows from the barrels of a gun - in April 2007,it is time the world acclaims the role of Girija Prasad Koirala in ensuring Parliamentary Democracy for this Himalayan State with an area of 141,181 square kilometers and a population of 27 million according to the 2002 census. The people of India, one hopes, will remain grateful for this war horse who prevented a Maoist government taking over Nepal with all the secur9ty implications for this country.

Many in India would not have known that Girija Babu was born in a village in the Saharsa district of Bihar to parents who were Gandhians and had opposed the Rana regime under inspiration from Gandhiji. The family, Belonging to Biratnagar in Nepal, was living in exile there This courageous gentleman, Krishna Prasad Upadhyaya (the Koiralas are Upadhyaya Brahmins) had died in a Rana prison while on a fast unto death.

That village, probably named Tediya, had been devoured by the Kosi river in the 1930s, but the memory of both he and his late elder brother B.P. Koirala as also their parents, will never be obliterated from the memory of Indians for all times to come


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by Ashish (few years ago!)

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