KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL
With some awkward incidents ahead of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai’s funeral ceremony, political analysts and some leaders in Nepali Congress (NC) feel that its time the party reflected why its senior leaders end up severing their relations with the party at the end of their lives. Such tendency, they said, is not bearing well for the party.
Bhattarai had distanced himself so much from the party that when he died the party leaders were confused as to how they can take ownership and pay respect to its founding leader. Same was the case when great Ganesh Man Singh died -- he had already quit the party reportedly after he felt humiliated by Girija Prasad Koirala.
“It is time the party looked back and questioned why it’s senior and founding leaders, who sacrifice whole of their life for the party and democracy, get disillusioned with the party at the end of their lives?” said S. Aniruddh Gautam, an analyst, who has closely observed the NC’s internal politics.
For most part of its history, NC ran under the leadership of the trio -- Ganesh Man Singh, Girija Prasad Koirala and Bhattarai. Each of the three was instrumental in NC’s rise to power and popularity. But it was only Koirala who died while he was still at the center of power and national politics. The rest two died after they quit the party in great frustration.
“The tendency to forsake important leaders at the end of their lives when they deserve more respect and care is gradually weakening the party,” said a NC leader seeking anonymity. “A senior leader quitting the party means that it lost a big chunk of support base. Bhattari’s exit had also weakened the party as much as Ganesh Man’s exit.”
NC’s history shows that it stood strong and received resounding victories in the elections when the top leaders remained united and lost when it remained divided. NC stood out as the largest party in the 1991 election when the leaders were united, but it lost to the Maoists in the 2008 Constituent Assembly election when Kishun ji and Girijababu were divided.
“In democracy, everyone should get the space,” said PL Singh, a close confidante of Bhattarai. “Its time to reflect and realise that NC completely lacked internal democracy and what has been practiced is negative leadership.” In his observation, the party has been reduced to a place where “leaders have become dealers and they deal with slaves, not with honest party members.”
“When Bhattarai was humiliated by the party and he chose to distance himself, I wrote a 167-page letter requesting Girijababu that he should not distribute active membership to his slaves,” said Singh. “It went to deaf ears.”
To many, the major flaw in the NC leadership is its failure to give space and role to its deserving leaders.
“It’s a question: is Bhattarai alone to be blamed for his estrangement with the party? Was not it a responsibility of the party to convince him, give him a role and space in the party and get him on the board?” questions Ram Hari Khatiwada. “Nobody cared for that.”
Some leaders even think that the party should “confess the guilt.” “It cannot be denied that the party had meted out injustice to Bhattarai. Those who made the mistakes in dealing with Bhattari must have a guilt feeing now. This mourning should also be confessional too,” said NC leader Prakash Saran Mahat.
There must be something wrong, said Khatiwada, which drives leaders like Bhattari and Singh out of the party as they grow old and feeble.