Nepali Times
Plain Speaking
Real democracy



The commentary following Girija Prasad Koirala's death has focused predominantly on his controversial record as prime minister during the 1990s, his stellar contribution to the peace process, and the vacuum we are now facing. This is understandable, for GPK's most tangible impact at the national level was post-1990.

But of his 62 years in active politics, GPK spent 47 years (1947-90 and 2002-06) fighting for democracy. Biratnagar's Jute Mill and Koirala Niwas, the das gajja at the India-Nepal border, the open fields and safe houses in Bihar's Farbisganj, Patna and Varanasi's lanes, Delhi's power corridors, Kathmandu's prisons, the Tarai's district headquarters and villages these were GPK's haunts. Everyone today has a story to tell about their association with Girijababu because for close to half a century, he remained a man of the people, not a creature of Baluwatar.

Along with thousands of other anonymous warriors, GPK recognised that the primary challenge for his generation was to bring freedom and democracy to Nepal. He deserves appreciation for responding to the call of the time. There was a repressive regime in place; society was stifled; a new generation could see that opportunities were passing
them by; and Nepali Congress and other dissenters provided a platform to channelise this discontent.

But the freedom that GPK helped bring in 1990 and 2006 has led to a fundamental transformation of Nepali society, throwing up an entirely new set of challenges. Stuck in relatively petty, manipulative politics after taking over, Girijababu failed to address the macro issues. As he admitted in the late 90s once, his politics was geared towards bringing democracy but the politicians didn't quite know what to do with it when it came.

That is precisely the question for the next lot of leaders who will take up the reins. Will they respond to the call of their time, less about fighting for democracy than consolidating it and using it to address popular aspirations?
While GPK had hoped that the country would not have had to fight for democracy yet again, circumstances may dictate otherwise.The peace process is in limbo and the far right and far left have gained ground in recent months. The quest for a democratic constitution laying the grounds for a stable polity remains elusive. But even if politics moves towards that direction temporarily, the structural issues that newer leaders have to confront are totally different.

Travel to any mid-hill or Tarai district to see the massive changes underway. A generational transformation has taken place and it is young people below 30 who run small enterprises, the local papers and FM stations, and human rights organisations. They are also the foot-soldiers of all the political parties and movements. Most students in schools across the country are first-generation learners whose parents struggle to make ends meet.

Radio and television have made huge strides, and people know now what urban centres and the consumer economy have to offer. There is unprecedented connectivity, with both a telecom revolution and infrastructure building proceeding simultaneously.

And of course, the money transfer economy has struck deep roots. Talk to any worker and at least half their acquaintances will be in the Gulf or Malaysia. The passport office and manpower agencies are more common points of reference than the local agricultural office or any factory. In a decade, even more ambitious and educated young people will enter their working years.

All these changes in the political economy have been made possible because of the freedom that the political parties helped bring. But increasingly detached from their roots, the new NC troika, as well as the leaders of other parties, do
not seem to have given much thought to what society is demanding today.

The true tribute to GPK would be to do what he was unable to do go beyond the rhetoric of democracy, and actually use it to improve people's lives.

The golden middle - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)
Media mourning - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)
Political vacuum - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)
Death of the guardian - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)
Political being - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)
Post-GP - FROM ISSUE #495 (26 MARCH 2010 - 01 APRIL 2010)

1. jange
And the biggest failure... to recognise the Maoists for what they are- murderers, looters and extortionists.

2. K, K.

Cogratulations to Prashanta. Now, given the trend in the country, you will be able to keep writing for the need of your " Real Democracy " for yet another 60 years, if not for another century.

3. suman
Taking the Maoists and putting them around our neck and destroying and doing things (or not doing) to demolish our heritage, morale, and law and order is important to remember too, Prashant.  His daughter as DPM and his undemocratic credentials within his party are all part of his legacy too.  As a result, NC is cut in half.  The 1990 struggle was done by the young students with the help many leaders.  So he cannot get all the credit.  Before that, he was always on the shadow of the other party leaders.  Thre only unilater decision he made was with the Maoists as a Delhi-12 agreement, and we already know what happened to the country.  So let's put things in the perspective not make him a deity.

4. Norbu Ghaley
Girija Babu gone now, as we all have to in similar way, sooner or later. It is natural, so better don't get panicked and make many stories behind, he is not devoted as BP Koirala. During Girija's four times premierships, many bad things happened, such as earth quakes, double plane crash and most severely the massacre in the Royal family and most unluckily bringing Maoist into mainstream politics of Nepal, so now we have an uncooked political Khichiri in Nepal, due to that the political dysentery never stops and Nepal has to smell all the bad things. Who would lead NC now? do we expect some one bold, strong and honest from NC leadership? I think this time, oppurtunity should be given to some one well educated, broadminded, young energetic and modern thinking! Let us all hope for the better leadership in coming!

5. Sameer Yonzan
Real democracy in Nepal? All the political leaders and Nepali janta knows very well but they have mistaken it with word demon crazy! So that is why all these things happens in Nepal. What are they: 1) during protest one can destroy any government property, because the leaders leads and provokes to do so in demon crazy way. 2) Not to follow traffic rules and safety measures, 3) Not to care about environment and pollution, 4) Not to curb corrupted govt. officials, 5) Form many political parties 6) Not to think about the welfare of Nepal and Nepalese 7) Form many youth leagues to get ready for fight, 8) Misuse political power for the sake ones party and ones own benefit! These are all what the democracy means in Nepal! DEMON CRAZY IN NEPAL!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)