TOPICS : Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage

Ram Pradhan

Nepali Congress (NC) patriarch G P Koirala, as some media reports indicate, is on the verge of adding another feather in his cap. Although the bhadgaonle headgear of his has, of late, developed quite a few holes, his die-hard supporters are already in the all-too-familiar business of counting chickens before they are hatched. Whether their boss indeed ends up making a triumphant comeback to power is for the future to tell, but considering the odds, particularly the type instigated by the chieftain’s republican insinuations (outbursts?) since the launch of the five-party agitation, it does not seem probable the aging but still agile former socialist will make it to the top this time around.

But Koirala, unlike most other politicians in present-day Nepal, can still make a difference — through statesmanship. All he needs to do is to recall what his illustrious elder brother, B P Koirala, told the press the day the multiparty option was declared defeated by the panchayat in the 1980 national referendum. When asked bluntly if he would call upon his rank and file to rise in revolt against what was believed to be a manufactured verdict, the charismatic leader had said: “No. First of all, being a democrat I accept the people’s will, but more importantly, I don’t want to incite violence. My faith in national reconciliation and the Raj Shakti and Jana Shakti working hand-in-glove for Nepal’s safety and development remains unchanged regardless of what happened in the vote.”

One of these days, perhaps soon, it is speculated the NC boss would be meeting King Gyanendra for “consultation” and it is not too unsafe to assume they will dwell upon the absolute urgency of coming to terms with the obtaining ground realities. As the commander of a major political combine, Koirala has a legitimate right to tell the monarch whatever he deems best for the country. Not only his own followers but also the people in general expect him to recommend a solution to the current crisis and a modus operandi that kills the snake and leave the stick that kills it intact. Courage to face the truth on the part of everyone, including the monarch and the political leaders, is the need of the hour. Mel Gibson of The Passion of the Christ fame recently told an interviewer: “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”

More important than what kind of government the country should have and who should head it, the main focus should be on how soon a free and fair parliamentary election can be held. Because this democratic exercise alone can restore the people’s supremacy and smooth transfer of executive power to where it rightfully belongs, there is no alternative to an early vote. Everything else, including resumption of the stalled dialogue with the Maoists, can be handled in the meantime on a case-by-case basis. Koirala or his counterparts just cannot shy away from this national obligation. They owe it to the people they say they are there to serve.

The upcoming two-day encounter with the donor community in the NDF beginning May 5 is going to be tough for the establishment. Questions over a whole range of issues are being asked. Couched in a veiled threat, the donors will tell the disputants to bury the hatchet and work in tandem to restore constitutional governance in Nepal if their cooperation is to remain unaffected.