Indian pro-Hindu leaders provoking Nepali royalists against republicanism, federalism and secularism in Nepal

Indian pro-Hindu leaders provoking against republicanism, federalism and secularism in Nepal


Anil Giri, The Kathmandu Post, MAR 29
Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai (KP) came out of a self-imposed political dormancy on Sunday, with a call to revive the 1990 constitution and monarchy. While this came as a surprise to many, sources said, it was “a well orchestrated and calculated move” mounted by the religious right to confront republicanism, federalism and secularism - bedrock of Interim Constitution and post-2006 politics.

“It is not Kali Baba or Pilot Baba who are behind these developments, but the politics of the right and a number of political figures,” said an NC source.

According to a blow-by-blow account obtained by the Post, some “serious persuasion and planning” has gone behind Bhattarai’s statement and the conservative force, though a small one, runs across the party line.

A series of meetings among a section of pro-royalist Nepali Congress leaders was convened at the residence of former lawmaker Omkar Shrestha in Lalitpur after the  demise of Girija Prasad Koirla last Saturday. “
Once-powerful NC stalwarts, and now discredited leaders, such as Khum Bahadur Khadka and Govinda Raj Joshi were notably present in these meetings,” said the NC leader.

On Saturday, said the leader, a meeting at Shrestha’s residence decided to urge Bhattarai to join active politics and take a lead in opposing the three agendas - republicanism, federalism and secularism.  “Since the very beginning of the republican surge, Kishunji has been against the idea of federalism, republicanism, and secularism,” Shrestha told the Post.

According to Shrestha, Kishunji will now get into active politics “anytime.”

Vice President Paramanda Jha, of MJF, was the first high-ranking official to come out in the open in support of a Hindu state on March 13 in Dhangadhi. He was on the way back from the Indian holy city of
Hardwar. “He held a series of meetings with pro-Hindu organisations in Kathmandu on his return. Their intent is clear — reviving monarchy via a Hindu state,” said a leader who has closely followed these developments. 

On March 23, Raj Nath Singh, former chief of Bharitya Janata Party (BJP), who was here to condole
GPK’s death, said he was in support of “a benevolent Hindu state.” Singh, during an interaction in Kathmandu, said, “ I would personally be one of the happiest men if Nepal re-adopted Hinduism as the state religion.”

Before making the public statement, he had met former king Gyanedra at his Nagarjun bungalow for two hours, discussed the future political course and the strategy to revive the Hindu state, said a close aide of Gyanendra.

Gyanendra, according to the aide, is all set to get into active politics. “He has become very active in recent days, and so are his close aides. It is obvious. His mobility has increased. He has

upped the ante and scaled up his activities,” said the aide.

After his meeting with the BJP leader, Gyanendra mustered courage to give the interview (to Avenues TV),” said a source close to him.

Soon, on March 24, Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar of MJF (Loktantrik) said the new constitution will affirm
Nepal’s identiy as a Hindu state and the “Hindu identity of Nepal shall be never compromised.” He made the remark at a programme organised by World Hindu Federation in the Capital.

Who will carry GPK's mantle? Political void in Nepal



The void resulting from Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala’s death has been felt most keenly at the High-Level Political Mechanism (HLPM), which Koirala coordinated.

Crisis now looms large at the mechanism—whose sole objective was to forge political consensus—with each of the top three parties claiming leadership of the body. Though two of the constituents,
UCPN (Maoist) and CPN-UML, seem to have no problem continuing with their earlier representatives, Nepali Congress is divided on the issue.

While the UCPN (Maoist) has claimed it should lead the Mechanism on the ground that it is the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, the NC says it should naturally inherit the position its president held. The UML, on the other hand, has also claimed the post,

stressing the need to select a consensual leader.

At an NC discussion on Wednesday, leaders concluded that the party should stand firm on its “right” to lead the mechanism. “We’ve concluded that as a party that led the peace process, the Congress should continue to coordinate the mechanism, which was formed on the initiative of our president,” said NC spokesman Arjun Narsingh K.C.

While K.C. advocated Acting President Sushil Koirala’s representation of NC, sources close to NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba said the latter would not let that happen ‘at any cost’. Sushil, on the other hand, said all three—himself, Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel—would represent the party.

Though all three parties have started internal discussions, they are yet to come together to take a call on the issue.

UCPN (Maoist) made it clear it had accepted Koirala’s leadership not as NC president but as a “trusted and towering” personality in Nepali politics. “We will obviously claim our turn to lead,” said Maoist Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha. “However, this matter has to be discussed within the mechanism.”

UML too is divided. While the party’s Standing Committee meeting decided to sort out the issue through consensus, UML leader Pradip Gyawali floated the proposal of a rotating HLPM leadership at a programme on Wednesday.


(Read original:

Nepal's human rights body and parliament conflict over jurisprudence

NHRC under House scanner

House panel slams NHRC response


National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has come under the scanner of a House committee for “challenging” the latter’s jurisdiction to grill the Commission.

The Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Human Rights had summoned NHRC commissioners for discussion on Tuesday to inquire about anomalies reported in the organisation, among others.

NHRC, however, responded negatively to the Committee, stating that it could not grill an autonomous constitutional body (NHRC) on any of its internal issues.

In its letter dated March 17, NHRC responded that the Committee could not make any issue related to NHRC administration an agenda for discussion. “Any issue or problem related to the functioning and internal management of NHRC are matters under the Commission’s autonomy as per the NHRC Act, Regulations and the Interim Constitution,” stated NHRC Chairman Kedarnath Upadhyaya in the letter. “I, therefore, inform that we have decided to request you not to bring these issues into the Committee’s discussion.”

The Committee took the NHRC response “seriously” and concluded that it was a “direct contempt” of the entire parliament. “The letter is a direct contempt of the Committee and the House,” said Committee Chairman and Maoist lawmaker Padma Lal B.K. “NHRC put a question mark on our jurisdiction.” He said
NHRC was summoned for discussion on the request of two NHRC members, who claimed there were a number of anomalies in the organisation’s management. There were reports in the media a month ago that NHRC members misused funds while purchasing vehicles.

The Committee on Tuesday sent a second letter asking the Commission to present its written clarification on the “offensive letter” at the next meeting on April 2.

Five days after its letter drew criticism from the parliamentary committee, NHRC dispatched another letter informing it would not be able to attend the meeting till April 2.

“We will wait till April 2 for clarification and if the
NHRC does not respond, we will initiate impeachment proceedings,” said B.K.

Law experts say the House committee has authority to grill N
HRC as it is accountable to the parliament. “As per Article 56 (3), 105 (2) and 131(4) of the Interim Constitution, NHRC’s defiance is already sufficient for initiating impeachment proceedings,” said Advocate Madhav Gautam.

Article 56 (4) states that “no comment shall be made about the good faith of any proceedings of parliament,” while article 105 (2) and 131 (4) say NHRC members could be impeached.


NHRC chief lays down the law


Stoking the controversy over jurisdiction and autonomy of parliamentary and constitutional bodies, National Human Rights Commission (
NHRC) Chairman Kedar Nath Upadhyaya on Wednesday termed the House committee’s attempt to grill NHRC on its internal management an “intervention” resulting from misinterpretation of laws.

NHRC chairman’s statement came in response to the decision of the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Human Rights to grill the Commission’s top brass on alleged financial irregularities. The statement also answers the House panel, which labelled the NHRC chair’s March 17 letter challenging the committee’s jurisdiction as “offensive”.

After some disgruntled members of the national rights body complained of irregularities in the purchase of vehicles, the committee had sent a letter inviting NHRC for discussion on Tuesday, but the meeting was postponed to April 2 after
NHRC informed it wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting.

“The House committee cannot inquire on our day-to-day administrative activities as these are internal matters of an autonomous constitutional body,” said Upadhyaya. “What it can inquire about is our human rights promotion activities, which we present through the president in the form of annual reports.”

On the alleged financial irregularities, Upadhaya said the commission’s internal audit had shown no anomalies and the external audit would soon present its report. Besides, he said, there is the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (
CIAA) to look into financial irregularities.

Upadhyaya also said the commission was not intimidated by the committee’s “warning” that it would initiate impeachment proceedings against the
NHRC board. Chairman of the parliamentary committee Padam Lal B.K. had said on Tuesday that impeachment could be an option if NHRC continued to defy the committee’s jurisdiction.

With Bangladesh joining ICC, Nepal urged to follow suit

With Bangladesh joining ICC, Nepal urged to follow suit



With the Bangladesh joining the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, human rights defenders in Nepal have started piling pressure to the government to follow the suit. With the ratification on Monday, Bangladesh has become the first country to join the ICC in South Asia and 111th State party to the Statute.


Though Nepal’s parliament ratified the Accession Bill on Rome Statute in 2006, the Cabinet’s indecision has been stopping Nepal from becoming the member of the ICC.


The ICC is the first international court established to try and prosecute the serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity, war crime, genocide and aggression categorized under international humanitarian laws.


The Court does not act retroactively as it has no jurisprudence to entertain cases which occurred before the concerned state party joined the treaty. Besides, ICC would act only when the entire judicial system of the concerned state party fails to address the case.


The rights defenders are urging the government to approve the bill because the approval would allow the upcoming ICC Review Meeting to welcome Nepal as a new state party to the ICC. The Review Meeting is slated for May this year.


In that line, INSEC on behalf of the National Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) in Nepal has hailed the Bangladesh’s ratification of Rome Statute of ICC and urged Nepal to accede to the treaty.


For a country like Nepal, which is passing through a difficult transition, joining ICC is considered crucial in that it functions as a deterrent for the future rulers to engage in human rights violations. Joining ICC would mean there would be no room for impunity for serious crimes like war crime, genocide, crimes against humanity and aggression.


Apprehensive of the fact that that greater support for the ICC in the Asian region is needed in order to increase the region’s commitment to fight against impunity, NCICC said Nepal should not delay in acceding to the treaty. “Applauding the move of the Government of Bangladesh, we would like to urge Government of Nepal to accede to the Statute without further delay,” said INSEC Chairman Subodh Pyakural on behalf of NCICC.


The NCICC said joining of this international justice system by Bangladesh would grant the region a stronger voice and a more meaningful role in supporting this truly effective mechanism for the protection of human rights and the rule of law.


With this ratification Bangladesh would also be able to participate in the upcoming Review Conference in May in Kampala, as a State Party -- a special meeting of the state party to review and consider amendments to the Rome Statute.

GPK up there on Google search

The human sea at the Koirala’s funeral procession in Kathmandu. (An extract from Kantipur’s e-paper version)

GPK up there on Google search

Keshav P. Koirala & Amish Raj Mulmi

Girija Prasad Koirala’s death shook cyberspace as well, with Nepali news sites witnessing unprecedented traffic from visitors across the world. ‘Girija Prasad Koirala’ ranked second in the search-giant Google’s most searched term on Saturday, the day Koirala passed away.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with Koirala’s death from Saturday onwards, with new groups and tweets arising every second.

Following news of Koirala’s critical health condition and subsequent death on Saturday, Nepali news websites were flooded with visitors, with witnessing more than 200 percent rise in traffic. Some other news portals were down for hours as they failed to cope with the heavy traffic.

Bibek Poudel, a researcher at Banepa-based Open Technology Resource Centre (OTRC),  a joint initiative of Nepal government and IBM, said, “Google Trends showed that Koirala’s full name was searched thousands of times in the US. This accounted for the ‘top search’ status of the name at around 2 p.m. NST (on Saturday).” Poudel, an Internet media researcher, also ascribed the heavy Internet traffic to Koirala’s “political clout”.

The ‘R.I.P. Girija Prasad Koirala’ page on Facebook already had 1,520 fans by Sunday evening, while Twitter saw a plethora of posts on Koirala’s demise. Twitter user amisck posted, “Nepal has 2 bear a gr8 loss frm d demise of National hero Girija Pd. Koirala”, while another user ButterflySmi kept it short: “R.I.P. Girija Prasad Koirala”. R.I.P. stands for rest in peace.

Facebook groups mourning his death quickly mushroomed, with at least 34 groups already there by Sunday evening. One group was titled, ‘We lost a legend. May Girija Pd. Koirala’s SOUL rest in peace’, while another group was called, ‘U are the best Prime Minister in the world…love you Girija Prasad Koirala’. Ironically, there was only one member in the group — ‘Nepal and Nepali Congress will never be same without Girija Prasad Koirala’.

On the ‘R.I.P. Girija’ page, Facebook user Dharani Adhikari called him “One of the greatest politicians of the world!!!” and wished for all the parties to be “united to work together to overcome this great loss!!!”

However, there were a few Facebook groups that looked to the future. One such group was ‘Let’s search a mastermind for the replacement of Girija’, which already had 25 fans by Sunday evening. (Source: The Kathmandu Post, March 22, 2010)

Who is next at Nepali Congress helm?

Who is next at Nepali Congress helm?

Prakash Acharya

KATHMANDU: The Nepali Congress finds itself in exactly the same situation it was 27 years ago when BP Koirala died of protracted throat cancer. With its president and visionary gone, the Congress party was left with Ganesh Man Singh, Acting President Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and General Secretary Girija Prasad Koirala at the top.
Fast forward to March 20. Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala is dead, and at the helm are: senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, Acting President Sushil Koirala and Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel — all believed to be potential candidates for the party leadership in their own ways. For the moment, the Congress party’s fate hangs on to the trio, as was evident today. Sushil, Deuba and Paudel jointly placed the party flag on the body of the party president as they paid their last respect to the revered leader at the Aryaghat. “If one of them had been an acceptable leader for all, there would be a single leader to place the flag from the party,” said central member Narahari Acharya.
As Koirala was the main initiator of the peace process and the process of writing a new constitution, his demise has created doubts over the success of the two key agendas on time.
Koirala’s demise has put forth some serious questions before the Congress: Who will be the next top leader of the party? Will the next leadership be able to encompass all groups of the party together? Will it hold the capacity to lead the country’s democratic movement and deal with the Maoists as earlier?
With the death of Koirala, who gave a firm leadership to the party for 13 years, the party will have to shoulder two immediate challenges — tackling the issues of peace process with internal unity and electing a new leader.
Although the party has entered into a semi-collective leadership system, there must emerge a single leader from among them to lead the party. “The NC rank and file is not satisfied with the performance of acting president Sushil, parliamentary party leader Paudel and senior leader Deuba. So, if they do not prove themselves competent, the leadership will emerge from the newer generation,” Acharya said.
“None of them have delivered well in their front,” said Acharya.
“If the leaders do not act responsibly and do not reform themselves from the tendency of working for personal interests, the party will have to face more losses and difficulties,” said Purna Bahadur Khadka, another central member.
“The place of Girijababu will never be filled in the party,” said Krishna Sitaula. The leaders must change themselves and be able to come above their personal interests, he said


OBITUARY: Democrat's death at the helm -- by Kanak Mani Dixit

OBITUARY: Democrat's death at the helm


Girija Prasad Koirala will be remembered as a democrat who strode through Nepal´s modern democratic era of two decades, a man with weaknesses at the party level, whose commitment to pluralism remained unwavering. Though an autocrat within his Nepali Congress, where he wielded total control from 1990 till recent months, his democratic convictions when it came to the larger polity made Koirala stand resolute against royal adventurism. And political pragmatism made him reach out to the Maoist rebels in the jungle.

At 86, Koirala was the very last national-level politician of South Asia whose activism spanned the period from the Quit India movement of the 1940s till present. All his contemporaries elsewhere in South Asia have passed away before this. In this sense, Girija Prasad Koirala´s death marks the passing of a South Asian era.

It was from BP that ´GP´ received his pluralism mantra, which made him uncompromising in matters like civilian control of the military, separation of powers, and supremacy of the judiciary.

He was groomed in political culture by his brother Bisweshwor Prasad Koirala (´BP´), who walked the world stage as a socialist of the Nehru-Nasser period. It was from BP that ´GP´ received his pluralism mantra, which made him uncompromising in matters like civilian control of the military, separation of powers, and supremacy of the judiciary. These were the ´simple convictions´* which helped Koirala steer the polity after the fall of the 30-year royal Panchayat regime, at a time when some believed the country would disintegrate in the absence of absolute monarchy.

Within the Nepali Congress, Koirala emerged as the sole power centre soon after 1990, ruthlessly sidelining the other two of the triumverate which inheritated the mantle from BP, Ganesh Man Singh and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. He was able to maintain a strong base by building a direct relationship with party workers all over through continous travel, and retaining the power to raise and disburse party funds.

Long innings

Koirala ruled the longest as five-time prime minister in the democratic era after 1990, and by that token also made more mistakes than others, besides earning the animosity of the mainstream left which opposed him in Parliament and on the streets. Koirala can take some of the credit for the advances made during the dozen years of democracy till 2002, including the advance of community forestry, press freedom, the FM radio revolution and the brief interlude with local government. He was a true believer in open society. And yet, he was party to the ills that dog us to this day, from energy shortage, static economy and the impunity that has spread like wildfire. Clearly, Koirala was unable to come to grips with the newer challenges beyond pluralism, posed by identity assertion and economic globalisation, among others.

As is widely acknowleged, the country would not have a peace process and the Maoists come above ground, nor would it have gone republican, without Koirala´s acquiescence.

Though often vilified as a power-monger, posterity will regard Girija Prasad Koirala better than his contemporaries. His strong and continuous presence at the helm of political affairs for two decades after 1990 can be said to have helped Nepal ease itself into the modern democratic era. He was prime minister when the royal palace massacre occurred on June 1, 2001, and his personality probably helped stave off total anarchy that the then-underground Maoists were set to take advantage of. As is widely acknowleged, the country would not have a peace process and the Maoists come above ground, nor would it have gone republican, without Koirala´s acquiescence.

Koirala led an austere life, living in a makeshift rooftop apartment of his nephew most of the time that he was out of power. The corruption charges levelled against him during his prime ministership would have mostly to do with the income he had to generate for the Nepali Congress, in a polity where there is no sanctioned party-finance mechanism. But the father´s one definite weakness was for daughter Sujata, and he was not beneath promoting graft on her behalf. Koirala always kept assistants, but never allowed anyone to get close enough to think he was a confidante. Over time, a family coterie came to surround the ageing leader, and able associates drifted away from the inner circle.

Second Coming

Girija Prasad Koirala´s ´second coming´ was after 2002, when the new (and last) king of Nepal made a not-so-naked grab for power. While the other democratic leaders, nearly to the last man, fell like ninepins against the royal coup, Koirala held firm even as many regarded him as a laughing stock. He resisted Gyanendra resolutely, and insisted on the reinstatement of the dissolved parliament as the only release that would be acceptable. Few others were with him, but Koirala´s doggedness won the day. Gyanendra had used the excuse of the Maoist insurgency to take full charge, but starting in 2003 Koirala initiated contact with the underground rebels and by the fall of 2005 led the seven parliamentary parties to signing the 12-point agreement, which was to spark the massive People´s Movement of April 2006.

The deadline for the constitution writing is May 28 , 2010, but Koirala would have died knowing that this deadline was impossible to meet, given the distance between the Maoists and the rest on key draft provisions.

After the People´s Movement, it fell to Koirala to lead the country back to peace and democracy. During the time when Koirala was both head of state and government till the elections of April 2008, it was under Koirala´s watch that we saw the entrenchment of impunity and the further-weakening of an already feeble state. And yet there is no denying that the successful effort to bring the Maoists above ground had ended the ´people´s war´, which had taken more than 16,000 lives over a decade. For long having projected himself as an anti-communist, Koirala found it possible to make common cause with the mainstream-left CPN (UML) party to negotiate with the CPN (Maoist) for the sake of peace.

Without doubt, as a man who saw leadership of the country synonymous with his own stewardship, Koirala would have died disconsolate. In his last days, weakened by emphysema caused by a lifetime of chain-smoking, Koirala would doubtless have liked to have seen the country on the path to political stability, marked by a successful conclusion of the peace process and promulgation of a new constitution. The former should have meant the disbandment of the Maoist cantonments and the ´attachment´ and rehabilitation of more than 19,000 ex-rebel combatants. The deadline for the constitution writing is May 28 , 2010, but Koirala would have died knowing that this deadline was impossible to meet, given the distance between the Maoists and the rest on key draft provisions.

It cannot be left unsaid that the aging politician compromised his own legacy towards the very end by brazenly pushing daughter Sujata to lead the Nepali Congress in the government of Madhav Kumar Nepal -- an act which in one stroke weakened the latter´s cabinet by filling it with juniors. Such was his commanding presence that not one leader in the Nepali Congress dared challenge this show of unalloyed nepotism. Koirala forced Prime Minister Nepal to elevate the daughter to Deputy Prime Minister, and seems to have had an eye on the prime ministerial chair as the ultimate prize. This favouring of a neophyte politician with rip-roaring ambition had the impact of drastically reducing Koirala´s stature within his own party over the past year, and a loss of face nationally and internationally.

It cannot be left unsaid that the aging politician compromised his own legacy towards the very end by brazenly pushing daughter Sujata to lead the Nepali Congress in the government of Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Koirala was born in Bihar, where his family was in exile for challenging the Rana regime. He began his political career six decades ago as a labour union activist at the Biratnagar Jute Mills, and he epitomised the ´secular´ values of liberal democracy which many others merely mouth, whether it was in matters of faith, gender, human rights, press freedom or civilian-military relations. While regarded highly in India as a man of the ´Independence generation´, his strength within Nepal lay in relentless party work and the understanding of powerplay.

The Man in Daura

Girija Prasad Koirala died with the knowledge that a political stable, peaceful and prosperous Nepal was very much a work in progress. And that is the sadness of his passing, of promises unfulfilled and him knowing it. A reliable and towering democrat has been removed from the field at a time when the peace process is incomplete and the constitution unwritten. Will the jolt of his death force the Maoists and the parties arrayed against them to work to finish the peace process and constitution drafting by May 28? That seems unlikely.

The departure of Koirala weakens the social-democratic middle ground of Nepali politics. Spring is the ´season of discontent´ when Nepal sees political uphheaval, and the UCPN (Maoist) could decide to use Koirala´s departure as the opportunity to escalate the radical agenda that they have been voicing in public and private. If they do go in the direction of urban revolt as suggested often and loudly, it is bound to embolden the germinating right wing of Nepali politics. Amidst such a scenario, it is required of democratically inclined politicians of all parties -- including the Maoists -- to work with the broader civil society to keep the middle ground from encroachment from either side.

Dressed immaculately in white daura-suruwal and Western jacket, smoking incessantly from a cigarette holder, white handkerchief in hand, his middle finger extended in horatory fashion, drinking milk-tea from a glass tumbler -- that is the lasting image that Girija Prasad Koirala leaves behind. And the hope that the ´simple convictions´ he carried will ultimately weaken the forces of political anarchy, and make way for peace, political stability and economic progress.

(* The reference is to the one work available by Girija Prasad Koirala, "Simple Convictions: My Struggle for Peace and Democracy" (2007), Mandala,
Kathmandu.)Source: Republica, March 22, 2010.

When the patriarch passes on by CK Lal

When the patriarch passes on

By CK Lal

Thousands gathered at the Dashrath Stadium on Sunday. Another hundreds of thousands thronged along the streets of the cortege route to the cremation ghats on the banks of Bagamati near the Pashupatinath Temple. It was difficult to believe that it was the journey to eternity of a person who was ridiculed and reviled by the comfortable classes of Kathmandu throughout his life. But then Girija Prasad Koirala was not just a politician, he was history personified for at least two generations of Nepalis. Mourners were grieving for a slice of national history rather than merely the death of a former prime minister or chairperson of the most influential political party of the country.

In an atmosphere of national grief, it’s difficult to asses the legacy of Girija Prasad Koirala, known better as Girijababu by his followers and as simply GP by his admirers. There is a fear that the ongoing peace process may unravel in the absence of his guardianship. The future of Nepali Congress now falls on the frail shoulders of second-generation leaders who have not exactly covered themselves in glory over the past few years. The Maoists and the UML stalwarts generate even less confidence.

The pacts that GP made with several agitating groups remain unimplemented. Uncertainty seems to be the only certainty at the moment. It says something about the political stature of one of the tallest leaders of South Asia that his departure from the scene has created widespread concerns about the future of peace, stability and democracy in Nepal and the repercussions it may have in the rest of the region.

Perhaps no other leader of South Asia saw, endured and survived as much political upheavals as GP. Five times prime minister and the first head of state as well as government of Republic of Nepal, he was one of the last South Asian leaders to have actively participated in the Indian Independence Movement.

GP was born in Tedi village in Bihar where his father Krishna Prasad Koirala had been living in self-exile to escape from the oppressive Rana regime of Nepal. The place where Koiralas lived now falls within the extended bed of Koshi River. Had Tedi existed, it would have mourned one of its most illustrious sons who contributed in the transformation of Kingdom of Nepal into the world’s youngest republic with relatively less loss of life and property. Biratnagar has assumed that responsibility where the Koirala Niwas became the nuclei of Nepali politics once the family returned to their homeland.

Koiralas are perhaps the only family in the world in which all the three brothers became prime ministers in different periods of history of the country. The eldest brother was Matrika Prasad who helped steer the country from Rana regime to the restoration of Shah Monarchy in 1950s and did the groundwork for democratic politics in those years of massive challenges and tremendous opportunities.

Bisheshwar Prasad Koirala became the first democratically elected head of government of a country where the king considered himself to be the incarnation of Lord Bishnu. Difference of opinion between BP and King Mahendra over the role of the king in a constitutional monarchy led to a clash of personalities. BP was ultimately dismissed and thrown into jail within 18 months of leading a government with two-third majority in the parliament.

Girja Prasad Koirala, the youngest brother, watched as a popularly elected prime minister was dismissed by the king who considered himself to be above constitution, laws and norms of democracy. Lessons learnt during these formative years were to come handy for GP when he got the opportunity to decide the fate of monarchy.

After the restoration of democracy in 1990, GP became the second popularly elected prime minister of the country in a multiparty parliamentary democracy. In 1994, GP was forced to dissolve the parliament when parliamentarians of his own Nepali Congress party failed to show up at a crucial confidence vote. BP’s government had lasted 18 months; twice that time. BP had tried to implement socialist agenda, but the decisions taken during GP’s tenure turned Nepal irrevocably toward free market economy.

Mid-term elections led to the rise of first elected communist head of government of any parliamentary democracy in the world. Unfortunately, it too fell within nine months, and the period of uncertainty and instability that followed led to the rise of Maoists. Their so-called People’s War caused the death of at least 14,000 Nepalis and thousands of villagers were forced into internal displacement.

GP once again took the leadership to free the country from the uncertainties of fluid politics. At the height of Maoist insurgency in 1999, nobody thought that free and fair elections were possible in the countryside. GP saw the election through and was rewarded with a majority for his party in the parliament.

The fate intervened in GP’s initial attempts of negotiating with Maoists and establishing peace in the country. In an orgy of violence on June 1, 2001, the entire immediate family of King Birendra was wiped out. Gyanendra, a businessman with interests in tobacco, tea and tourism became the new king. He had plans different from his prime minister.

Gyanendra’s regime began with decisions that turned out to be coordinated steps of a phased coup. First GP was forced to resign and he was replaced with a relatively pliant Sher Bhadur Deuba. With the help of Deuba, the parliament was dissolved in the dead of the night. His utility over, finally Deuba was dismissed and Gyanendra took control of the entire country. GP watched in dismay as the king declared himself to be the chairman of the Council of Ministers. This was the end of constitutional monarchy and the beginning of the end of the institution of kingship.

Almost the entire political class gave up hope when Gyanendra took absolute control on Feb 1, 2005. Only GP stood resolute against royal-military rule even when Maoists had opened channels of communication with the king for a compromise deal. GP’s gamble paid off as Gyanendra was forced to restore the parliament and handover the state back to people’s representatives. In his showdown with the crown, the representatives of the people had own. But GP’s struggle had just begun. Maoists were waiting in the wings to pounce upon him.

In the months after the restoration of parliament on April 28, 2006, GP adroitly brought Maoists into the mainstream, made them participate in the framing of an interim constitution and convinced them to embrace parliamentary democracy. It was GP’s finest hour. But bigger challenges were yet to come.

Uprising in Madhes weakened Nepali Congress. Agitation of ethnic groups in the hills and mountains challenged GP’s authority. Maoists continued to play political hide and seek threatening fresh outbreak of violence. Nobody thought it possible that long-promised Constituent Assembly elections could be held in such confusion. GP persevered, and CA elections were held in which Maoists emerged as the largest political party with one-third of seats in the house. Now, Maoists couldn’t deny that they too were one of the parliamentary parties. On a matter of principle, GP had won, but there was defeat in his victory. His political party, the formidable Nepali Congress, had been reduced into minority.

An activist and a risk-taker all his life, GP gambled big by getting Ram Baran Yadav, a Madhesi of southern plains, elected as the first president of the Republic of Nepal. GP probably thought that the head of state would forestall undemocratic decisions of the Maoist government. That Yadav did by restoring dismissed army chief Rookmangud Katawal to his post when Maoists appeared to be on the verge of running the state as they wished. The decision, however, soured the relationship between Nepali Congress and Maoists.

The probability of timely promulgation of a new constitution has since diminished. Perhaps the choice of Madhav Nepal at the head of anti-Maoist coalition was GP’s one of the biggest political mistakes. A status quoist by disposition, Premier Nepal has little interest in institutionalizing the republic through a new constitution.

GP will be remembered for throwing out the outdated institution of Hindu monarchy and turning Nepal into a secular republic. His role in the mainstreaming of Maoists will be long remembered. The errors and omissions of governance while he was the prime minister will take a while to go away from public memory. But most of all, his absence will be felt acutely as Nepal prepares itself to face the consequences of constitution not being promulgated by the stipulated date in coming May.

Even though he began his career in the trade union movement, GP veered towards free-market fundamentalism in the later stage of his life. Agriculture, the mainstay of Nepali economy, suffered most during his stewardship of the country. The whiz kids he trusted for economic advice turned Nepal into an open field of capitalism where the poor and the disadvantaged were relegated to the bottom of the list of priorities of the government.

In the arena of foreign relations, GP dealt deftly with Nepal’s neighbors, donors, lenders and world powers and helped garner the support of the international community for peace, democracy and development in the country. However, he perhaps failed to convince the Indian establishment that Nepali Congress was capable of handling the Maoist threat in the countryside.

The legacy of GP is the High-Level Political Mechanism where top leaders of three main parties in the Constituent Assembly are expected to meet and thrash out their differences. It remains to be seen whether all their feet together are big enough to fit into the political shoes of GP Koirala, one of the last political titans of South Asia.

It would be quite a while before someone emerges on the political firmament of Nepal who could enter and exit from corridors of power almost at will. GP managed to do that because he treated the post of prime minister as “a pair of torn shoes”. It’s doubtful if ever there will be anyone with that kind of disdain for the office he held repeatedly. The country—and the rest of South Asia—would miss GP’s patriarchal haughtiness. (Republica, March 22, 2010)

Girija Prasad Koirala put to rest at Pashupati Aryaghat

Girija Prasad Koirala put to rest


Amid unprecedented and overwhelming participation of people from all walks of lives, Girija Prasad Koirala’s deceased body was cremated at Pashupati Aryaghat on Sunday evening. The first head of state’s final rite was done with full state honour.


Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala lighted funeral pyre of her father at Pashupati Aryaghat on the bank of Bagmati River in Kathmandu at 7:50 p.m. The funeral pyre was prepared at the No. 1 crematory, where no others except the royalties were allowed to be cremated until the country was declared republic in May 28, 2008.


The four-hour long funeral procession, participated by tens of thousands of people, reached Aryagat at 6:50 passing through Sundhara, Ratnapark, Bagbazar, Dilli Bazar, Maitidevi, Old Baneshwor, Battisputali and Gausala. The environment looked gloomy and the attendants’ eyes lachrymose as the funeral pyre burnt.


Before the funeral procession, the deceased body was kept at the largest Dasarath Stadium to allow people pay their last tribute. Tens of thousands of people lined up in serpentine queues outside the stadium since early Sunday to offer their last homage.


Koirala’s deceased body was taken to Nepali Congress party headquarter at Sanepa from his daughter’s residence at Mandikatar, where he breathed his last.


When the decorated vehicle carrying Koirala’s dead body arrived at party headquarters Sanepa, at 8:a.m. with procession, party members greeted with slogan, “long life Girijababu”. After keeping just 15- minutes at the party office, Koirala’s body was rushed to Dasharath Stadium. All along the way, party workers and people were throwing garlands and flowers to truck.


The crowd had already changed into a human sea as the vehicles carrying Koirala’s casket moved to Dashrath Stadium for pubic tribute. Thousands of people were already waiting at the Stadium. “I have never seen such a huge gathering at this place,” said Suresh Shreshta, a businessman in Tripureshwor area.


When Koirla’s body was kept at the Stadium, Prime Minsiter Madhav Kuamr Nepal draped the national flag on his body while Nepal Army saluted him with guard of state honor. As the people kept on flooding in the stadium, NC extended the time for the last tribute by an hour. People flooded in to the Stadium continuously for seven hours, according to Police Spokesman Bigyan Raj Sharma. He said around four hundred thousand people attended at public tribute programme.


Representatives of international community, prominent leaders from India, including Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar arrived at the Stadium and paid their last tribute to Koirala.


Thousands of police personnel, and volunteers from the NC and other organizations were deployed to manage the mass coming and going out of the stadium. There were three gates opened for general people, while one was managed for VIPs, according to Nepal.

International community mourn GKP's demise

Dub GPK a prominent leader in 21st Century South Asia



Death of Girija Prasad Koirala, the leader who played key role in bringing down both 240-year old monarchy and the 10-year long bloody war, was mourned internationally.


On the second day of his demise, condolences continued to pour in from prominent leaders across the world, including UN Secretary General, representatives of governments and political parties from neighbouring countries and other well wishers of Koirala, Nepal and Nepalis.


Most of their condolences said Koirala’s demise was a huge loss to the country, passing through a turbulent peace process, and to the entire South Asia.


Deeply saddened by the passing of Koirala, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said, “Koirala’s death is a huge loss for Nepal and its ongoing peace process.” As a friend of the United Nations and a staunch believer in its ideals and principles, Ban said, Koirala will be remembered as a strong voice of multilateralism and global cooperation.


The Secretary-General praised Koirala as a pioneer of Nepal’s labour and democratic movement of the 20th Century. “His courageous and resolute leadership played a central role in the 2006 People’s Movement and to the ending of the 10-year armed conflict.”


The Secretary-General also said he will remain grateful for Koirala’s unwavering support to the UN for its role in the peace process as well as its development, and human rights work in Nepal.


Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed messages of condolence to their counterparts, as well as the government and people of NepalKoirala, stated Gilani, had played a very important role in the political developments of Nepal in the past decades and his passing away is indeed a national loss to Nepal.


Hon’ble Speaker of Indian Lok Sabha Meira Kumar said Koirala was one of the greatest leaders of Nepal and of South Asia. “The passing away of Koirala marks the end of an era in the Nepali politics. At this difficult hour of mourning, the Parliament of India and its people extend their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members, the Nepali Congress party and the people of Nepal,” Kumar wrote in the Condolence Book at Dashrath Stadium.


Expressing heart-felt condolences India’s Minister of External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna said Koirala death has left a void in Nepal’s history. Nepal and South Asia, he said, have lost an outstanding political leader, who was passionately committed to the cause of democracy and peace and friendship between our two countries. She said Koirala would always remain source of inspiration for both the present and future generations.


India’s Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said the loss is irreparable not only for Nepal, India and South Asia but also for the cause of democracy and peace. “An institution in himself, Koirala played a very important role in the struggle for democracy in Nepal and in strengthening the close relations between our two countries,” stated Mukherjee. “In his demise, we have lost a statesman, a true democrat and a great friend of India.”


Similarly, Embassy of Japan T. Mizuno Koirala’s expressed condolences on behalf of the Government of Japan and the Japanese people. Mizuno said the demise is a great loss for the nation. “Koirala made a historic contribution to the ongoing peace process and democracy of Nepal. Embassy of Japan wishes all political parties to be united and accelerate the writing of the constitution for its peace process.”


Girijababu was like a guardian: Dahal

Girijababu was like a guardian: Dahal          


Girija Prasad Koirala´s demise is an irrecoverable loss -- especially in the context of concluding the peace process and constitution drafting. We have taken this as a loss which cannot be calculated by any means.

If you ask about my own experience, I began to have direct conversations with Girijababu for the first time in the fourth or fifth year after we launched the People´s War. When we met in
Delhi for the first time, we came to know each other in person and also began to understand each other´s feelings. We talked for one or one-and-half-hours during that meeting. Without speaking much he put his views directly and I too put forth my views in straightforward fashion. “Girijababu you should agree to our agenda of a republic and we will accept multiparty democracy. We should move ahead together,” I told him. We discussed the matter and reached the conclusion that the country could not afford protracted conflict. I think he probably formed some perception about me and our party from that very meeting.

My views about him also changed after I studied various facets of his personality, inquired about him through indirect channels and especially after I met him in person. I found him trustworthy at that very meeting and also afterwards (it was in 2059 BS). We were in regular contact as long as the talks lasted (second talks between the government and the Maoists). The talks between the government and the Maoist team led by Dr Baburam Bhattarai failed. Soon after that, Girijababu and I were in regular contact. We even talked twice a day no matter whether I was in Rolpa, Rukum,
Delhi, Mumbai or Noida. He was determined to merge the two different political currents into one, and we were sure that the cooperation should be taken to a historic conclusion.

The second meeting also took place underground. It was in
Gurgaon, India. The second meeting was focused on different political currents. The significance of the meeting was that we discussed what type of political current we should lead the country to. We Maoists had been waging a people´s war for a people´s republic while they were sticking to parliamentary democracy. We could not completely accept their political philosophy, nor could they accept ours. We said that the country´s future would be in peril if we continued the conflict with a “fight to finish” strategy. And it was in that meeting that we used the term “new political mainstream” for the first time.

New political mainstream means we had reached a position to accept competitive multiparty politics and intensify the struggle against the autocracy. The agenda of republic, which would be formed after waging the struggle against autocracy, should be developed into a new political mainstream. And that would mean both a republic and competitive multiparty politics.

While talking to him, it was understood that he had already developed a wish to go for a republic, but he did not say it frankly due to the party´s formal statute, legal matters and various other reasons. Though he did say that it would be difficult to go for a republic at that juncture, it could be understood that he was moving towards that direction. In the second meeting, he assured me that the country would slowly move towards that direction - the one we had demanded. That strengthened the trust between us. The gap between the two meetings was one and half years.

The third meeting took place in the context of forging a 12-point agreement. We met many times while forging the 12-point agreement. There were leaders of the CPN-UML as well, but he played the lead role. Sometimes the talks would not move ahead due to differences over terminology in the agreement, but Girrijababu was against such disputes. He would say that priority should be given to moving ahead together, rather than to words in the agreement. That boosted our confidence and brought us closer.

After the 12-point agreement, we focused on launching a mass movement. Some of the political parties were against launching a large scale protest. I don´t want to take their names now. They also did not believe that the protest would snowball. He asked us to chart out a comprehensive plan for a mass movement. At that time, the Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist were in favor of launching a large protest from 13 Chaitra, while the other political parties were for holding a demonstration on Chaitra 26 alone. Girijababu had already sent me a message and his delegation and our party completed the homework and charted out the plans. Then the other political parties also sat with us and decided to turn the protest programs into general strikes. It strengthened our mutual trust.

He was worried that our party would remain a weak force during the 19-day mass movement (I have said this many times. But I don´t think it has been established yet). He told me that if the Maoist movement became weak, it would weaken the strength of the parties. “So don´t relax your activities, intensify them,” he said. That made me feel that Girijababu had developed revolutionary thought and leaning toward radical change at that old age. It is at his initiative that we were taken by helicopter from Sikles, Kaski to Pokhara and
Kathmandu and then back to BP Nagar, Doti. He was afraid something bad might happen.

Should it be taken as a great historic coincidence? In the past we did not like him at all; we would take on him as an extreme anti-communist. In the beginning of the people´s war we had waged a fight against the Tanakpur treaty and other anti-national moves. But our views about Girijababu underwent massive change at that stage. As he was concerned over my security, I felt it as love bestowed upon a child by its guardian. I felt that the heart of the old man was different; his was a great heart. When we reached Baluwatar for the first time, he told Krishna Situala to arrange special security for us. In the past we thought that the old man would be narrow-minded, but I felt it was wrong. I realized that he was a different kind of person.

We then met very frequently while forging various agreements including those concerning the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. After we met, all complex matters would be settled. It was during that time that we talked about numbers of combatants to be integrated into the Nepal Army, which we have been talking about now also. We talked about it many times during the informal talks. He convinced me that we could easily settle whatever difficulties we had. He convinced me that he would not go for anything that put the Maoists in difficulty.

When the interim constitution was being finalized we held talks well into the night, till
11 p.m. or 1 a.m. While the other parties were pestering us with different things, we were very clear about the roadmap for peace, the constituent assembly and republic. Girijababu was also converging on the roadmap. Once he was very angry during an eight-party meeting and said that the party that came through armed revolt was cooperating with him while the parliamentary parties were putting him in difficulties. And that was the reality. If we had not developed that kind of relationship with Girijababu, there would have been no Comprehensive Peace Agreement, no election of the constituent assembly, nor would the country turn into a republic. In retrospect, I think these have been of historic importance with far-reaching consequences.

He had not thought that we would become the largest political party. Frankly speaking, Sitaula advised us that we´d better make Girijababu president and a Maoist the prime minister and that would solve all the problems. The negotiation went on for one and a half months. Our party pushed class perspectives a bit more.

We formed opinions putting ideology at the center. We won the elections unexpectedly, and now we thought that we could win everything. In retrospect, we think we could have easily led the country to a solution if we had compromised at that time. Now this is a matter to be evaluated by the people and by history.

Now Girijababu is gone. But it remains a matter of judgment: what would have happened if we had compromised. It was obvious that the proposal on president was Girijababu´s own. We met each other many times, but he never told me about it. Perhaps he felt uneasy about telling me frankly me about that. His self-esteem, the contradiction between his personality and a “make me president” stance might have inhibited him. I think the political evaluation and analysis of that event would last for many years. But now it is a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, I led the government. I always maintained good relations with him. I readily agreed on anything he proposed to me seriously. But I couldn´t agree with him on president. Frankly speaking, we inclined more toward the ideological aspect and analyzed it more through the class perspective. When I headed the government, he frequently called me whenever he wanted some support from me and I also helped him as far as possible. "I have no problem recognizing this government" Girijababu used to say.

When we entered into the army chief row, he continuously suggested to me that I should not get into that controversy. He telephoned me in the mornings and in the night. He called me every hour. He telephoned me many times in the day when I took action against the army chief. While we had already readied the plan against the army chief, he was suggesting to me not to make the move. He said that the action would backfire. He also sent Sitaula to my place to communicate the matter properly.

"We should be careful. He may take any action any time," I heard him saying. In our party, we had taken the decision. I had also made up my mind. At present, when I recall those days, I realize that he was worried as he was like our guardian. He time and again advised me not to get into controversy since he [army chief] was retiring in three months. Many times he tried very hard to convince me over several issues. "I know everything. You don´t need to worry. You better check it," he told me. He consistently advised me to study the matter myself. He advised me not to take action against the army chief as asking him for clarifications was enough. "You have asked for clarifications. This is enough for now. You can also send him a warning letter," he had told me. At that time, we looked at the matter only from the perspective of the party´s struggle. When I recall it, I now feel that it requires a review. It is an issue to be reviewed. My resignation came as a shock for him.

I couldn´t share with him my decision to resign. It was
4 a.m. when I decided to step down. I had made up my mind that stepping down would be in the interest of the peace process and the nation.

I shared my feelings indirectly but didn´t tell him clearly. But he sensed that I was going to do something. He then sent me a message saying "By the way, never think about resignation." He was shocked when he suddenly heard about my resignation. Next day and even till recently, he used to tell me that I took an unnecessary step. I gave several arguments about internal as well as external factors, but he was never convinced. "It could have been resolved in two or three days. It was a mistake" he always said.

"You were about to create an image like Nelson Mandela. You missed an opportunity to become a Nelson Mandela of the
Asia region. If you had completed the task of constitution writing and the peace process in time, you would have established yourself as a Mandela" he argued many a time. I found that his guardianship and his greatness were reflected in such suggestions. It was not once or twice, but many times tht he advised me sincerely.

When I met him last time, his health condition was not good. His face and body language indicated that he was getting weaker. "It seems that you are not recovering. I think you should have stayed in the hospital for two to four days more," I told him. But he preferred to go home. He talked to us briefly-- Sitaula, Shekhar Koirala and me. "Now you have to shoulder the responsibility. You have to lead the country." He gave such an important statement. One can say such things as a matter of general courtesy. But that was not the case over there. He didn´t speak of this matter just for courtesy. I have taken it more seriously now because he said it during his last days. I also shared the matter with the public.

When we were launching protests for national independence just before the formation of the HLPM, his trust in us increased, not decreased. It is symbolic. I never felt that he was trying to weaken the party. Our party men would advice me to be careful with the old man. But he never let me feel that way. I felt deeply that he was a nationalist. Yes, he had other beliefs because he believed in parliamentary politics. But he felt deeply towards the country. When we talked about national independence, I think he liked it. It was not as useless as others thought.

Taking these things into consideration, we had a deep relationship during these seven-eight years. Sometimes I had my doubts. Being a communist, it is natural to have the dialectics of doubt and trust. Communists do have doubts. It was perhaps our weakness. Nowadays we discuss the issue of doubts and trust in the party meetings. In some compartment of mind, I always had the feeling that the old man might betray us. There were questions in my mind. People would say that we had believed in him too much and he could stab us in the back. I myself did not think that way, but when others warned us against him, I would have doubts. Now, the things he told me in the hospital and his demise have removed all doubts. History proved that wrong.

Following his death, the challenges are really serious. But looking at things differently, negative events sometimes lead to positive outcomes in an unexpected manner. Such things have happened in history. Girijapabu left the world remaining honest about constitution-drafting and taking the political transition to its logical conclusion, and this is something that might bring the parties closer. I have begun looking at things from that perspective. It has produced a new feeling and sensibility. All have developed respect towards Girijababu, and that has increased the possibility of forging an understanding for peace and constitution.

This is a very tragic moment for all of us. But such events may lead to new an understanding, bring the incongruous political strands together and result in a new political consensus. Taking into account my latest talks with Girijababu, I feel that the Maoists themselves should analyze their role deeply and take on a new one to turn the peace process into a success.

There is widespread concern about what will happen in future. We should be able to address this concern. Now I think the other political parties would also be serious about forging an understanding. There are still 70 days to go. I believe that some solution would be found by that time.


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