Nepal | November 18, 2018

Remembering Bastola: A democracy fighter

Bal Krishna Dahal

NC leader Chakra Prasad Bastola died on October 13 at the age of 74. One of the prominent leaders actively involved in the fight for democracy, Bastola will be remembered as a person who always demonstrated a high level of integrity

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Chakra Prasad Bastola, a former minister and prominent Nepali Congress leader, who was also a scholar in his own right, passed away at the age of 74 on Ashwin 27, at his residence in Khumaltar, Lalitpur. Five years ago, on Poush 14, 2069, Bastola suffered a severe brain haemorrhage during a Bastola family “kul puja” in Biratnagar. His second wife, Kusum Bastola, had since then demonstrated exceptional devotion, helping him with regular treatment.

Bastola was born in Jhapa district in the eastern part of Nepal. His ancestors were originally from Kuibhir of Okhaldhunga district. He completed his post-graduation in political science from Banaras Hindu University, India. From that time, he had developed close relations with many Indian leaders.

He was a relative of BP Koirala by virtue of his first marriage to Madhu Acharya who was Koirala’s niece. Madhu’s sister was the NC stalwart Shailaja Acharya. Chakra Bastola is survived by two daughters—Sumnima and Garima. He married Kusum after the death of his first wife to cancer.

Bastola was inspired by the ideology of the first popularly elected prime minister BP Koirala and became an active member of the Nepali Congress in 2017 BS.

After King Mahendra took over power, the Panchayat system came into being in Nepal. Thereafter BP Koirala and many other leaders were sentenced to prison.

After a bail in 2025 BS, BP Koirala, along with his supporters, fled to India seeking asylum, where they relentlessly struggled to restore democracy in Nepal.

During these years, Bastola worked very closely BP Koirala, Girija Prasad Koirala and Ganeshman Singh. He also worked with DB Rai and some others on a weapons consignment effort to support the East Pakistan—now Bangladesh—freedom struggle which was then underway

At the same time, Bastola was instrumental in collecting arms and ammunitions in India together with Shailaja and Nona Koirala, and bringing them to Nepal in an effort to conduct an armed revolution for the restoration of democracy in Nepal.

Bastola was one of the key persons involved in the famous plane hijacking, executed by the Nepali Congress, in 2030 BS. A huge cache of money obtained from the incident was later used to fund the fight for democracy in Nepal.

The hijacking was planned by Girija Prasad Koirala with the consent of BP Koirala. Many youth leaders of the time including Sushil Koirala, Durga Subedi, Basanta Bhattarai, Nagendra Dhungel and Bastola were involved in the hijacking of then Royal Nepal Airlines plane from Biratnagar.

The plane was carrying some 30 lakh rupees.

Bastola and his colleagues diverted the aircraft to Farbisgunj and then to Patna and back to Darjeeling. Bastola subsequently spent considerable prison time together with Sushil Koirala at Bhagalpur Jail in Bihar, India, following the hijacking.

Nevertheless, he was among the few Nepali leaders who had deep ties with a variety of Indian political leaders. Incidentally, the hijacked plane is now kept at the BP Museum in Sundarijal, Kathmandu.

Bastola played a vital role both in the People’s Movement for the restoration of democracy and the establishment of the Republic in 2046 BS and 2062/2063BS, respectively.

He also regularly briefed the international community and sought support for Nepal’s democratic movement while he was in New Delhi, India. He was also initially involved in
conducting the preliminary meetings between Girija Prasad Koirala and Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” in India for ending the civil war in Nepal and ending autocratic monarchy.

Bastola had served as Nepal’s ambassador to India. He was one of the Central Committee members of the Nepali Congress for 20 years. He was elected as a Member of Parliament from Jhapa district and appointed as foreign minister and home minister.

During his tenure as foreign minister, Bastola played a crucial role in strengthening Nepal’s ties with various countries including India and Bhutan. His role in enhancing trilateral ties between Nepal, India and China is also noteworthy.

Bastola was a simple, co-operative, brave and friendly person. Many people say he was a faithful, loyal, courageous person who possessed considerable oratory skills.

He had good political relationship with leaders like BP Koirala, Ganeshman Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadhur Deuba, Ramchandra Poudel, Shekhar Koirala, Shashank Koirala and Sujata Koirala, among others.

He was dispatched to many countries to represent Nepal in different forums. The Nepali Congress used to send him to inter-party and intra-party meetings held within the country as well.

Bastola’s death is a huge loss not only to the Nepali Congress but also to the country. His absence leaves an acute vacuum in Nepal’s democratic system and foreign relations.

He lived his life for democracy, democratic values, equality and justice.

He will be remembered as a person with high level of integrity.

Dahal, a Nepali Congress member of the 13th National Convention, was a spokesperson for then Nepal Prajatantra Senani Sangh, a sister organisation of the NC


A version of this article appears in print on October 26, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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