KATHMANDU: Top political leaders today showered praises on Girija Prasad Koirala as they dwelt at length on the political vacuum following the death of the Nepali Congress President on March 20. They were addressing a condolence meeting organised by the Congress party at Khula Manch, the open air theatre. The mass meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday coinciding with the 13th day of Koirala’s passing away, was held today.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and CPN-UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal were no stingy about using words as they took their turns to identify him as a political guardian, main initiator of the peace process, tireless leader, a leader who always moved ahead with conviction, a man with action, a man who fought three revolutions and towering personality of Nepal’s politics.

The leaders vowed to drive the nation’s future polity on the basis of the late leader’s three mantras — unity, consensus and cooperation.

PM Nepal said, “I, probably, was the last person to have a political dialogue with him. A day before his demise, he urged me to work for the nation’s welfare and follow the path of unity, consensus and cooperation. He spoke in whisper due to his fast declining health condition.”

Maoist chairman Prachanda was reminiscent of his moments with Koirala in the later days: “I had an emotional relation with him. He was acting like my guardian, and myself his child — he would point out my mistakes and I took them naturally as I regarded him as my guardian.”

Prachanda went down

the memory lane, recalling his first meeting with Koirala five years ago.

“We represented the opposite poles and ideologies. Earlier, we had gone through the politics of negating each other. However, the camaraderie with him during the last five-years turned the bitterness of the past to affection and understanding.”

Prachanda also rose to

the occasion, indirectly projecting himself as Koirala’s successor.

“We were the two signatories of the 12-point agreement. The responsibility to take the peace process to its logical end has come to my shoulders as I am the co-signatory of the document. Since his passing away I feel more under pressure and shoulder more responsibility now than when he was alive.” Prachanda said Koirala had shared with him “many important matters” related with the national politics.” I shall reveal them in an appropriate forum in the days to come.”

UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal said that the majority of Koirala’s policies and deeds were outstanding and praiseworthy. “We should learn from his good deeds and actions.”

Leader of Communist Party of India Atul Kumar Singh said all Indian people respected Koirala highly. “He was a great leader of the whole sub-continent.”

Congress’s top three leaders — Sher Bahadur Deuba, Sushil Koirala and Ram Chandra Paudel — vowed to run the party through collective leadership and would devote themselves to fulfil the vacuum in late Koirala’s absence. They urged the Maoists to renounce violence. That would be the real tribute to the departed soul, according to them.