Sushil Koirala: a Democracy Stalwart

By Narayan Prasad Ghimire

Kathmandu, Feb 10: “He died a comfortable death. It was a good death indeed,” it was what one could hear at every intersection of the Kathmandu Valley early Tuesday morning. I too wondered what’s that ‘good death’ was and whose this was.
Yes, it was stunning news of the untimely demise of the Nepali Congress President and former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala that was spreading shock waves all across the country and Nepali diaspora abroad.
The reason behind the public saying ‘comfortable, good death’ is that leader Koirala was not heard bed-ridden for long or admitted to hospital for serious health before he breathed his last. He in a way died a sudden death.
His demise obviously threw wonder, significantly because most of the media failed to cover news on his death (12:50am Tuesday, 9 Feb). Only the State-run Gorkhapatra daily and its sister publication The Rising Nepal covered the news by stopping the press. The private newspapers becoming already stale in the early Tuesday morning shows the lack of journalistic activism and credibility to a great extent.
Now, the demise of the towering democracy fighter, near octogenarian stalwart, has created a big loss, a vacuity in Nepali politics which is yet to get out of complex transition and to the party building of the Nepali Congress. Why? The reasons abound.
Nepali politics which frequently suffered from different setbacks was just making a headway to peace and development with the way paved significantly by the new constitution promulgated through the Constituent Assembly, the body of people’s representatives Nepalis coveted for over six-decade. This very important responsibility was carried out under the capable leadership of Sushil Koirala.
To this very fact on the formidable leader, it is pertinent to mention that Former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said, “If Sushil Koirala had not taken firm stand, Nepal could not get constitution through the second Constituent Assembly too. It is undoubted that the credit goes to the late NC President and former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to bringing the constitution.”
Of course, the role the late Sushil Koirala played to steer the country to a right direction out from messy politics and botched up constitutional writing was unparalleled. Though many still take the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML as the reluctant federalist forces in Nepal, it is the new constitution that has constitutionally paved the way to implement the federalism now. This way, Koirala was the most democratic and progressive leader.
Moreover, there are other very good features the late leader Koirala had which a Nepali and any political party can learn from and implement in practice. To a gross materialistic and faithless politics of the day, the simplicity and ‘no greed for personal benefit’ are the most remarkable features one, most importantly a political leader can learn.
The late near octogenarian leader Koirala was man of courage and inspiration. “I’m fit and fine now. Country too will get solution soon.” It was what Sushil Koirala said after returning from the US with the treatment of cancer.
Upon the knowledge of his death, tribute and condolences have poured in from across the globe, including from the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon. The leaders from various SAARC countries have attended in persons to pay the tribute to him. All such have appreciated his simplicity of life, devotion to democracy and ability to bring much coveted constitution.
To dig further on his personal life, the youth of vigor and oomph, Sushil had regretted that he did not become a Hollywood hero, which he had hankered, and had no time for marriage and settle a family life, for he had to devote entirely to politics for the nation- for the party, for the democracy and for the people.
To bring more references on his political life, a constitution expert who closely observed the constitutional and political development of the country, Dr Bhimarjun Acharya, said, “The most laudable aspect of leader Sushil Koirala is his strong adherence to constitutional democracy, independent judiciary, law and morality, and leadership to bring the new constitution.” Expert Dr Acharya further said if any political leader was to seek good quality from the late Koirala, it was commitment to constitution and sincerity to independent judiciary.
Similarly, political analyst Purushottam Dahal observes, “Leadership to promulgate new constitution through the Constituent Assembly, simplicity as of common citizen, no greed at all, untiring adherence to democracy, no political compromise for party building and interest, significant contribution to build political career of GP Koirala are most unforgettable aspects relating to the late Sushil Koirala.”
However, analyst Dahal said the lack of broader political vision and introvert nature have caused political mistakes at times.
The demise of leader Sushil Koirala in the transitional phase is the demise of the first generation of Koirala family, the upcoming general convention of the Nepali Congress is obviously affected. In the party, the onus has come first to immediate leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba and then others. How they run the party will be their test.
Conclusively, the late leader Koirala was a democracy stalwart. His lifelong devotion to democratic values contributed to make the democracy functional, make people sovereign and most importantly to bring the fully proportional and inclusive constitution.