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National Reconciliation Day Celebration

Issue December 2018

National Reconciliation Day Celebration

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Nepali congress leaders, cadres and probably some supporters have celebrated the national reconciliation day on Poush 16 (December 31, 2018): the day B.P. Koirala and Ganeshman along with other political leaders and cadres in the name of the national reconciliation means reconciling with the then king Birendra came back to Nepal on December 30, 1976 ending the self imposed exile to India. Nepalis lost the democracy they had earned at the cost of the blood of thousands of youths during the armed revolution against the Rana prime minister causing other innocent folks to suffer in the hands of the kings and certainly of the Panchas means supporters of the panchayat system the then king Mahendra imposed on Nepalis. These are all the results of the mistakes of B. P. Koirala that did not listen to the colleagues, and of course of the lack of the political vision of Koirala.


On December 30, 1976, B. P. Koirala along with his top colleague Ganeshman Singh, other leaders and cadres came back to Nepal stating they were coming back to Nepal to reconcile with the king. The irony was that B.P. did not ask a question to himself how his party and he could reconcile with the king when the king was absolutely running the autocratic rule in the name of Panchayat. How could the king who had been enjoying so much of power, and who had been misusing the national resources for his enjoyment at least for two winter months having a royal camp in Surkhet and then traveling with his spouse to northern mountains on an army helicopter and then having a lavish dinner every evening willingly would turn over the power to B.P?


Probably, B.P. knew that reconciliation was impossible, as King Birendra was not for quitting his authoritarian rule unless he was forced by another force. So, B.P. was for launching an armed revolution while he was in India. In fact, he had been preparing for an armed revolt against the king. Immediately, after landing in Kathmandu, the king sent his police to arrest them, and then charged them with treason at the law court. At the hearing on the treason case at the court, B.P. rightly stated that the people had no alternative to reestablish democracy following the law and the constitution; so, the only alternative was to take up arms. He could have received a death penalty for it but the king did not dare to do so.


Why B.P. needed to come back to Nepal in whatever name he might like to call it but the best name he gave was the reconciliation. Immediately after B.P. and Ganeshman got released from the jail in the late 1960s they headed to India where they got the treatment of the head of government from the government of India the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had headed. However, when Prime Minister Gandhi enforced a state of emergency in India to escape the consequences of the ruling of the court in 1975, B.P. followed the Indian socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, and he went head on collision with Prime Minster Indira Gandhi. B.P. went too far not honoring his status of the political guest. Indira Gandhi gave him a choice either to go to the Indian jail or go back to Nepal. Surely, Prime Minister Gandhi stripped B.P. of all the benefits the government of India had been providing B.P. with. So, B.P. had no choice but to return to Nepal. King Birendra knew it very well. Then, why the king needed to welcome B.P. and reconcile with him; so the king rather put him in a jail. Surely, for B.P. and his colleagues to be in the Nepalese jail was better than to languish in the foreing jail.


Why such a situation had arisen was another question. The answer was King Mahendra wanted to be an absolute king rather than a constitutional monarch without thinking the consequences of such a rule, as his predecessors had remain almost in the custody of the then hereditary Rana prime ministers. The Rana prime ministers made the kings and their families so deprived that they could hardly afford more than dal-bhat (rice with lentil) with a glass of milk and occasionally goat meat. The Ranas put the king in the dwelling called Narayanhity palace not better than any cowsheds made in the palaces the Rana prime ministers had built in the western style for them; however, they called it the palace because there was a king without power in it.


So, after the untimely death of his father King Tribhuvan, Mahendra became the king and did not want to share the power taken from the Ranas, and B.P. had so generously put in the hands of Tribhuvan. B.P. believed that Tribhuvan would wisely use it for the welfare of the common folks that had shed so much of blood for forcing the Ranas out of power. B.P. in the name of the tripartite agreement reached among the Ranas, Tribhuvan and the Nepali Congress leaders in New Delhi, India surrendered the power to Tribhuvan despite the vigorous opposition of the visionary leaders such as Ganeshman and K.I Singh. That was the first political mistake of B.P.


Then, B.P. forced King Mahendra to promulgate the Constitution of Nepal of the king’s choice surrendering the rights of the people to elect a constituent assembly, and craft a constitution following the tripartite agreement reached in New Delhi, India. Thus, B.P. lost another chance of getting back the sovereignty the people had got at the cost of so many beautiful lives in the armed revolution launched against the Ranas and successfully defeated the Ranas.


Following the constitution the king had given, the general election was held in 1959 to elect a parliament and the Congress party won the absolute majority. B.P. became the first elected prime minister. He could have easily amended the constitution to make it the people-oriented rather behaved as if a man of unlimited power, and ignored everybody’s advice. As a result, he had not kept in touch with the common folks, and he totally did not know the public opinions about his administration whereas King Mahendra walked, rode on horse, and reached remote areas to sound the public opinions.


The founding father of Nepal Communist Party Pushpalal met with B.P. and directly told him that the king might be doing something for takeover, and proposed him to prepare for any consequences for anything the king might do against the established democracy. Probably, B.P. must have been sure enough that King Mahendra would not do so even then he had a hint at the king was to dissolve the parliament. He did not make any preparations for such eventuality, and did not alert the cadres, and did not even know that his trusted secretary was the real spy of Mahendra, and his trusted political lieutenants such as Tulsi Giri, Surya Bahadur Thapa and Bishow Bandhu Thapa were in fact the palace spies. That was the second great mistake B.P. knowingly or unknowingly committed.


The result was the king very easily killed the nascent democracy, sent B.P. and Ganeshman to the Sundarijal army camp on December 15, 1960 to remain there indefinitely. Subarna Shamsher: one of the Congress leaders and the financier to the armed revolution against the Rana prime minister left Kathmandu a day before the coup the king had made thus he escaped the possible imprisonment. Some folks believed that King Mahendra advised Subarna to leave the country.


Then, communist leader Pushpalal proposed joint actions of the communists, and the congress to restore the parliament the king had dissolved. However, B.P. did not agree on that, too. Certainly, Pushpalal as a communist wanted Nepal to be a republic whereas B.P. had been for the constitutional monarchy and he carried the monarchy on his shoulder throughout his life knowing that the kings had made the congress leaders as the targets to hit at, as the Congress leaders wanted power from the king that had naturally never wanted to given in. That was the third mistake and probably the last mistake B. P. had committed, and he got ruined from those mistakes and he could never come back as a successful politician.


B.P. proudly said that King Mahendra and he were conjoined at the neck. Mahendra never responded to such statement of B.P. It was one-way thinking, and the king never appreciated it rather surgically removed B.P. forever. That was B.P. and his reconciliation slogan that had made the people suffer for 30 years of the panchayat system in other words the absolute rule of the king.


Happy Reconciliation Day


December 31, 2018


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