By Arabinda Ghose
The decision of the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists or UML) and five other smaller parties of Nepal to align with the Maoist rebels has been welcomed by many as a silver lining in the unsettled condition of Nepal, which will usher in peace and democracy in this kingdom.
The democratic political parties of Nepal have committed the same mistake that one former Prime Minister of Nepal had feared while having an informal chat with this reporter. If that alliance was forged, he had told this reporter in New Delhi, the Maoists would simply take over the agitation against the King and send the political parties to their demise in the long run.
The argument that only a combined agitation by the political parties and the Maoists would bring in democracy in Nepal is facetious, given the track record of the political parties since the advent of democracy in April 1990. Of the three Partinidhi Sabhas elected by the people in 1991, 1994 and 1999, only the second had lasted its full term, and how? It was during this term, during which a Prime Minister got the House dissolved (recommended by him under Article 53 (4) of the Constitution and executed by King Birendra) when a no-confidence motion was pending against his government . The Supreme Court had to intervene in order to make the political parties stick to the Constitution and it had ordered revival of the House. During this term, apart from the UML, the Nepali Congress (twice) and the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party too had enjoyed fruits of power. The third Pratinidhi Sabha from 1999 to October 2002 had seen the splits in the Nepali Congress and the miniscule Nepal Sadbhavana Party, ultimately resulting in the dissolution of Pratinidhi Sabha, much before the expiry of its term. Chapters and verses can be written about these, but one reserves them for another occasion except mentioning that the Nepali Congress, the largest party, the seemingly impregnable UML and even a miniscule party called the Nepal Sadbhavana party had been split during those five years.
Lest one should overlook it, the people of Nepal had taken part in three general elections and given their verdicts in favour of democracy, the last time to the Nepali Congress. This trust of the people stands belied today because of the power game played by the leaders of this party, built by B.P. Koirala and his comrades with sweat and blood in the 1950s. No one else in Nepal, except those who had been killed by the police and the army during the 1950s and during the long struggle between 1961 and 1990, had suffered more for the cause of democracy than him. He had died of cancer in July 1982
If one goes through the interview on tape given by BP (this is how he is known to all his friends and admirers) to his long-time friend and fellow Socialist, Bhola Chatterji of the Statistical Institute of Calcutta, one would be horrified to learn how he was treated as a political prisoner in Kathmandu during the Rana rule, and how he was saved from dying in jail because of just one reason, the deeply religious Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shumshere would not like a Brahmin to die in prison.
Instead of aligning with Maoists, Nepali Congress should emulate B.P. Koirala. His national reconciliation policy had ultimately brought democracy.
He would certainly have been hanged or shot along with his comrades in 1977 in Kathmandu but for the fortuitous victory of the Janata Party in the general elections in India, which had ended the Congress rule at the Centre. Since BP had close relations with political leaders of India and the Janata Party, more so with Jayaprakash Narayan, King Birendra might have realised that the Government of India under Morarjibhai Desai would not have taken kindly to the execution of the Nepali Congress leaders. King Birendra on the other hand had Koirala medically examined in jail and after bringing him to the Palace had sent him and his wife Sushila to New York, with passports, visas and foreign exchange besides air-bookings done within the span of just one night.
In 1980, BP had somewhat stunned the people of Nepal and India by proposing a national reconciliation with the King. This was after a referendum in the kingdom ordered by King Birendra on whether the country should carry on with Panchayat system or revert to parliamentary democracy (which his late father King Mahendra had abolished by dismissing BP Koirala'sdemocratically elected government of December 15, 1960). The referendum had given a fractured mandate but BP had seen signs of moderation on the part of the King. Motives were attributed to BP after he had made this offer. But BP had told Bhola Chatterji.
?I have told the King, and I have also said in public, that I am for kingship not because I am a sycophant, nor because I am terrorised into making that kind of statement. But because the worst that the King could do has already been done to me. So, I have no apprehension, nothing to fear from the King.?
In the context of the 2005 developments vis-a-vis China'ssupplying arms to Nepal fuelling unjustified fear in some sections of people in India that Nepal has been ?lost? to this country, one recalls the sane advice BP had given to King Birendra at that time. He had told Chatterji:
?I told him (the King); you may not be a generous man or a loving King. You may not have love for the people at heart. But you certainly love yourself, your throne, your dynasty. Therefore, any strategy on my part which can serve that interest of yours will serve you too. Once I told him that my nationalism is ideological, whereas his nationalism is basically selfish. Without nationalism he will have no throne, he is nobody. Even if the country loses its independence and becomes part of India or China, I told him once, I shall have my farm, my house in Biratnagar, although Biratnagar will be in India or China. I may be voting for some Indian Member of Parliament or some Chinese legislator, but I should be there nevertheless. But what will happen to you if there is no country? So your interest in the stability of the throne means that you are more vitally interested in the stability of the country than I. That is why I tell him that his interests will be served by joining hands with us. I think that the King knows this.?
The question that would naturally follow is: ?Does King Birendra'ssuccessor appreciate the points made by the Nepali Congress leader in 1980 or is his brother G.P. Koirala prepared to follow his elder brother'sfootsteps and leave the company of the Maoists?
For those who have welcomed the alliance between the democratic political parties and the Maoists, one would just quote the Indian Express of November 28, 2005, which carried reports of an interview the Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda had given to the Nepali service of the British Broadcasting Service. The relevant paragraph reads:
?Prachanda sounded calm and refused to be provoked when asked whether killing of 13,000 people was a ?pious or sinful act?. He had said: ?The whole movement had to be analysed in historical and scientific evolutionary process.?
One hopes Girija Prasad Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Madhav Kumar Nepal and others have taken note of this statement and would realise that in case of an unlikely Maoist victory in Nepal, all these leaders might be liquidated later and this act would have to be ?analysed in a historical and scientific evolutionary process?.