BY P. KHAREL
By any measure, the closing two months of the year 2017 deep down witnessed the Nepali Congress in a terrible distress. Its cultivation of a penchant for downgrading any prospect of a communist government proved to be the chief cause of its undoing. The decisive defeat suffered at the hands of the Left Alliance brought its ranks and file to their senses as to how disenchanted the people were from their party’s lacklustre performance, including nepotism and incapacity.
The oldest existing party should shed the ache felt by the prospects of having to cool heels in the opposition benches in parliament for the next five long years. NC’s favourite pastime was to berate and sneer at the former panchas, especially RPP and its strands in different greys. Now the RPP wallahs are incorporated in the “loktantrik” list sanctified by the party which boasts of having “led” all successful democratic movements.
IN RETROSPECT: History has the habit of not always moving in a linear pace but acquiring circularity. The 1990s and after have witnessed so many anomalies and unprincipled chain of events and actions in the Nepali Congress, marked by both arrogance and ignorance, that its present position was long in the coming.
Ganesh Man Singh and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai found the NC going unbearable to the extent that they distanced themselves from the party led by Girija Prasad Koirala who crushed many others in the prime of their political career because they refused to support actions he took in a manner that ignored party procedure. Koirala, vengeful to those who showed the slightest tendency to differ with him, let alone defy his dictate, had a long memory in giving a rude shrift to anyone who dared to counter him.
Treating previous achievements as transferable entity for power and privilege is a pathetic exercise by a heartless usurer. Harping on having led “all democratic movements”, a claim roundly ignored by voters who are more literate, more educated, have travelled more than any previous generation and have been fed false promises and rank poor performance all these years.
Although sense will be slow to come to the NC, silence should not infect it. The devastating defeat in the general, provincial and local elections in the year gone by has inflicted a deep wound, leaking raw for cool minds to begin working in the right direction. Only sense, patience and perseverance will heal the party back to health sound and proper. It is the only way to hope for bouncing back with a realistic set of schedule and strategy.
NC may be down but by no means out. Political credibility is to be regained for the presence of reckoning, instead of veering towards “Praja Parishad”, the country’s first political party whose whereabouts today are lost in confusion, though its martyrs are revered across the nation. NC risks being reduced to being a political fossil consigned only to history.
The Gagan Thapa’s and Dhana Raj Gurung’s and Chandra Bhandari’s will have to gird their loins and fight the reactionary elements so heavily entrenched in the party. NC ruled for most of the multiparty years. Since the 1990 restoration of multiparty system, its leaders became prime minister almost a dozen times. Girija Prasad Koirala donned the mantle of prime minister five times, Krishna Prasad twice, Deuba four times and Sushil Koirala once. Communist parties headed eight governments in less than a decade.
Sujata Koirala is no Shailaja Acahrya as far as ideological commitment and personal integrity are concerned. Nor is Arzoo Deuba a Sushila Koirala. In fact, it would be intensely naïve to make such comparisons between such pairs. Sujata, propped by her father to lead a basically elected team of NC members by a defeated candidate as a deputy premier in a “loktantrik” government, was a pathetic sight, and her image took a further decline. Arzoo’s ambition of an “educated” woman wishing to be cast as an heir to her spouse’s political fiefdom proved to be an exercise in overstretching things too far.
CRITICAL LOOK: We need an alert, proactive and responsible opposition and a government that delivers without excuses. Or else, another revolution will be inevitable. After all, there are several groups with agendas that do not in any way see eye to eye with any of the existing mainstream parties. Those in power tend to put all opponents in the same bin, and doom their credibility and future prospects.
A large number of academics and intellectuals affiliated with NC are found tame ones who blindly follow the leadership to defend its policies and rationalise any and every decision without exercising any critical faculties due to misplaced sense of loyalty rather than merit of each measure.
The party needs to make a candidly thorough review of its shortcomings in the past two and a half decades, notably the “loktantrik” eleven years, and present itself as an alert, responsible political party within and outside parliament. This is the only way for any serious hope of recovering lost ground.
NC’s Opportunity in Opposition
BY P. KHAREL