APR 14, 2011
Sushil Koirala may have spent over half-a-century in politics, but most of his actions since he became chief of the Nepali Congress following his cousin Girija Prasad Koirala’s death last year seem to indicate that he has accumulated precious little political skills during that time. It used to be said that Sushil did not know anything about matters such as governance or foreign policy but, as he had spent most of his life working within the party organisation, his skills of internal political management were formidable. Almost every single action of his in the recent past has belied this claim. Rather than being able to manage varied interests, he has emerged as a leader concerned only with imposing his will upon the party while oblivious of the negative consequences it could lead to. Unlike the former Congress chief, Girija Prasad Koirala, who too had authoritarian tendencies, Sushil does not possess the capacity to inspire broader loyalty among the party organisation.
The recent events within the Nepali Congress—where Sushil Koirala is pushing for a dissolution of the party’s sister wings and is adamant that only his loyalists be represented on a committee to prepare for the Nepal Students’ Union General Convention—are only the most recent in a long line of incidents where Koirala has managed to alienate large numbers of his party colleagues. He prefers to rule over his party with the support of a small coterie of loyalists and seems unconcerned about the impact of such a mindset. This is the same political style Sushil has consistently brought in his negotiations with the other parties: He starts from one negotiating position then refuses to budge. He is suspicious and apparently incapable
of any real give-and-take. He also nurses a deep grievance that the Nepali Congress—with the years of sacrifice of its leaders and their commitment to democracy—has lost power to other political forces, but seems unable to chart out a new course of recovery.
Due to his intransigence, the Nepali Congress could further lose its relevance in the current national politics, which calls for building common ground with other parties on important constitutional and peace related issues. The NC is suffering from Sushil Koirala’s inability to manage the party organisation, aptly reflected in the leadership’s inability to give full shape to the Central Working Committee, more than six months after NC General Convention. The rift between Koirala and senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba also seems to be growing over the dissolution of the party’s youth wings. As Koirala fears, the centrality of the Nepali Congress in Nepali politics has been steadily eroding post-1990. Yes, the party has an illustrious history. But for the party to regain its centrality in Nepali politics, its leadership has to learn to adapt to the changing political circumstances. Sadly, Sushil Koirala, at present, does not seem capable of shouldering this burden. (THK Editorial)