Relevance Of Reconciliation

Yuba Nath Lamsal

In the life of a state, an individual may be insignificant. Yet, individuals are always important as they are the ones who make the nation because territory alone does not make a nation state. It is the collective expression of the people living within a given boundary that creates a state and the citizens' shared assertion is sovereignty.

Individuals are often swayed by the mass psychology, but there are always a few individuals who make a difference and leave a distinct mark in the life of the nation. In politics, all political activists cannot be politicians and all politicians cannot be leaders. It is easy to be a political activist, but not a leader. To be a leader of any level, one has to possess certain leadership quality and a level of trust of the voters. More difficult is to become statesman. Leaders are an average people who are concerned with and work for the interest of the party. But there are a rare breed of people who are above average politicians and leaders. They are the statesmen. There can be many leaders, but only a few statesmen.  The statesman is concerned with the country's broader national interest, but least interested in a narrow partisan agenda. This is the reason why statesmen are above general politicians and leaders. These are the people or statesmen who have made a difference in the life of the country, are remembered and revered for generations.

Visionary politician

In the modern political history, BP Koirala is one of the few politicians who command high respect in Nepal and elsewhere in South Asia for his unflinching faith and struggle for freedom and democracy. A nation rarely produces visionary politicians and statesmen like BP Koirala. He is the founder of Nepali Congress and commander of the 1950 revolution that toppled the century-old Rana's family oligarchy and established multi-party democracy. It was BP, when he led the first ever elected government in Nepal, initiated several revolutionary measures for the institutionalisation of democracy and economic development in the country.

However, his reforms measures came under scathing attack from the feudal elements and the elected prime minister was removed from power through a bloodless coup led by the king, which pushed the country to a long political tyranny of 30 years. But he kept his struggle for democracy and freedom, no matter where he was. Given the socio-political nature of the country, he reached the conclusion that neither capitalism nor communism was the solution to Nepal's problem and he adopted democratic socialism as the programme of the Nepali Congress. The democratic socialism is the system that guarantees multi-party political system, open society, human rights and individual liberty and egalitarian economic system. Since then democratic socialism has been the official policy of the Nepali Congress.

The other yet more remarkable BP's contribution is the policy of national reconciliation. BP returned to Nepal pursuing the policy of national reconciliation in 1977 as he clearly sensed the signs of danger looming on Nepal's nationalism and national identity. After Sikkim was annexed to Indian Union in 1975, BP might have sensed that Nepal would also meet similar fate if the forces in Nepal remained divided. BP thought that the king, too, felt the simmering danger and would be willing to work with the parties to safeguard the nation. He hoped that the king would agree to restore democracy so that all national forces could work together which, he thought, was necessary not only to safeguard the independence of the country but also to push Nepal forward onto the path of prosperity. However, the king did not feel and reciprocate the way BP did. For BP, democracy was the bottom-line for such cooperation among the political forces of Nepal.

Since then, BP's party, the Nepali Congress, has been marking the National Reconciliation Day on Poush 16 every year. This year also the day was observed with variety of programmes in which political and social luminaries spoke on BP's contribution and relevance of national reconciliation. In principle, there is no doubt that the national reconciliation is equally relevant today as it used to be back in 1977. However, not many efforts have been made to analyse why BP's national reconciliation policy did not succeed when BP was still alive whereas it succeeded only after his death. 

The fundamental difference was in its nature and objective. The objective of BP's reconciliation was to work together with the king against the communists. Moreover, BP did not properly evaluate the motive and nature of monarchy. The monarchy was a feudal institution that survived on stoking the pseudo fire of patriotism and designating the democratic forces, mainly the Nepali Congress, as the 'foreign agents', whereas, BP proposed collaboration with the king. At the same time, BP ignored and even loathed to work with other patriotic forces like the communists for democratic restoration. He even assailed the communists and praised the monarchy. This created rift between the Nepali Congress and the communists, from which the monarchy reaped benefit. As a result, BP could neither unite the anti-monarchy or democratic forces nor could he win the trust of the king.

After BP's death, the mantle of the Nepali Congress party went to Ganeshman Singh. Ganeshman Singh's analysis of the contemporary society, political situation and political forces of Nepal was different from BP’s. For Ganeshman Singh, monarchy was the anti-democratic institution, which could not be a patriotic force. He thought that communists were more patriotic and democratic than the king. Thus, Ganeshman Singh forged alliance with all other anti-king forces namely the communist to launch a decisive movement against the then despotic regime called the Panchayat in which Ganeshman Singh succeeded.

Fruitful approach

Under the grand leadership of Ganeshman Singh, multi-party democracy was restored in 1990, for which Ganeshman Singh has been respected by all political forces of Nepal, whereas BP could be the leader of the Nepali Congress alone. The fundamental difference between BP's national reconciliation and Ganeshman Singh's reconciliation is that BP proposed reconciliation with the king and failed, whereas Ganeshman Singh pushed for reconciliation with the democratic forces and succeeded.  It is, however, unfortunate that this aspect does not figure in the debate of the relevance and significance of national reconciliation. BP is, no doubt, the one who first proposed national reconciliation policy but his reconciliation approach failed. The national reconciliation policy and the approach Ganeshman Singh pursued became successful. It is Ganeshman Singh who put the BP's national reconciliation policy into practice, which bore real fruit. This aspect needs due commendation and analysis.

National reconciliation is more relevant at present than ever before. The national reconciliation should be forged with the democratic and progressive forces and it should not be with the regressive and reactionary forces. Although monarchy is now gone, monarchists are still trying to raise heads and regain their lost laurels against which all including the Nepali Congress activists must be vigilant.

 

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