Learning to move
The demise of Girija Prasad Koirala has created a certain sense of void at the personal level, but more than that the reverberations are having an impact on the political life of the country. If Koirala had stood as the meeting point of every political leader since the pre-CPA days, it was all the more marked in the post-Constituent Assembly election. The formation of the UML-led government threw in more responsibilities on his shoulders as every political leader found him to not only be a patient listener but also one who could deal with the situation. Such was late Koirala’s stature that the belief reigned that he could find a way out of the maze because he believed in concrete actions rather than lengthy monologues. Herein, it may be worthwhile remembering that the man who had spearheaded the jute mill protest in Biratnagar as a simple worker transformed into a most revered statesman and guide that the country has known. Determination and the sheer love for democracy saw him overcome one hurdle after another-success greeting him all the way. For him words were meant to convey a mission, the sincerity of the mind. He might have had his own cornerstones that came under criticisms, but belief in the democratic ideals and values always were his beacons. Now, that he is not among us in person, it will be fitting to meditate on what he stood for in the over six decades of illustrious political career.
In the last phase of his long political journey, Girija Prasad Koirala wanted the peace process to culminate logically, and the constitution to be promulgated on the scheduled date, that is May 28. His unrelenting search for an outlet to end the political impasse had the High Level Political Mechanism emerge. For the moment it is in a limbo till the leaders convene to assess the possibilities through this platform. Whatever that may be, the path that Koirala so steadfastly adhered to is that of consensual politics. What saddened Koirala the most during his active days was his inability to get the leaders to arrive at a consensus so that conflict of interests would have no ground to hold on to. He worked till the last moment of his life to get that commitment and action. This was, obviously, a reference to the timely drafting of the constitution. Moreover, his aura was such that even the most voracious would take his words. This just speaks about his ability to grasp the undercurrents to arrive at the steps to be taken which was well-recognised among all those who had met him, and discussed with him the fineries of contemporary politics.
It brings us to the crucial question “What next?” The political leaders from his own Nepali Congress (NC) have a greater share of burden to share. It will not be a personal ambition to drive the party that will work, the arena is broader. It calls for NC to come out of the limited confines as Girija Prasad Koirala did when he persuaded the Maoists to renounce violence to be a party to the CPA. This is the time when a clear path must be chalked out to positively engage the Maoists. If this is done, the country will be on its way to becoming one of which Koirala had a vision, that is prosperous and peaceful.
The recent fires in Simra, and other parts of the country have been quite tragic. The belongings and shelters of the victims have been burnt down leaving the sufferers at a loss as to how they would be able to revert to their normal life. Many blazes have been reported in recent weeks from different parts of the country as this is the season when fires are common. The dry season brings much pain for the people. Besides the soaring temperatures that make life difficult, a tiny spark can turn into a big bonfire destroying everything in its path. This year has been no different to last year or the preceding years.
The preparedness to fight blazes is a bare minimum. Even Kathmandu, the capital, boasts of limited outdated fire fighting equipment with only a few trained fire fighters. The case of other urban areas is far worse. In such a situation, the case of the villages can well be imagined. It makes one point clear— that the government has not given any thought to spruce up the fire fighting capacity with adequate fire fighters and engines throughout the country. Without advanced fire fighting training and logistics, the fire fighters take a longer time in extinguishing even a small fire which means more destruction.