I know this Article is little out of date and People may have lost interest in GPK by now, but I still feel that anything on GPK would be a good read to ponder – what that man was and was he really like that?
I should have written this long time back. This article is about Girija Babu, about death of Nepal’s former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. He died in the month of March, when I was travelling and was not in Hyderabad. I thought that I will write about him soon once I get back to my online computer system. However, time not permitting and because of sheer laziness, I am writing this article today. This article is purely on ‘GIRIJABABU’ that is a man called Girija Prasad Koirala.
He was not a God! A simple human being having lots of vices though his democratic credentials were impeccable is what they say. He always remained in limelight mainly because his dictatorial leadership, not so transparent party policy, nepotism and corruption on which he indulged in. He spent many years in Media after restoration of democracy in Nepal for many bad reasons. If there was no People’s Movement in 2062-63 BS in Nepal, he would die as another leader. But that movement made him a true leader of People when others were giving up against royal takeover, and acquisition of democracy. He stuck with his democratic plans and made King to bow for that. Thereafter, his image was turned to a picture larger than size/life, whatever you may call it.
The man, who was despised by many, and a man, who always was on people’s mouth when they used to say, “Girija! Kina marna nasakeko hola! (Girija, why can’t he die?), was changed till the time he died. The transformation was in the last five years and whatever he did in the last five years before his death, will be remembered by all.
Though after he died, people remembered only his democratic legacy, many people did an oversight for his bad deeds. He was a strong dictator, no doubt within his party, and could almost do anything for power. His involvement in suppressing any opposition, humiliation to political leaders including his own party men like Kishun ji (Krishna Prasad Bhattarai), extreme favour to nepotism, always being surrounded by his own close coterie were his hallmark for many years. His involvement in Bansbari Chhala Jutta Company (a company which produced leather shoes) privatization and bankruptcy of profit making government company after privatization, his involvement in Dhamija Kand, Lauda Air Corruption cases are some of few examples where he should be remembered for not that good reasons. I was reading one article somewhere in Nepali media, I think it was written by Rabindra Mishra, a BBC Nepali Sewa Journalist (I hope he is still there) where Rabindra has tried to summarize the life of Girijababu. In fact after his death, GPK (Girija Prasad Koirala) has been turned to a savior of democracy and it seems that all political commentators have completely forgotten his misdeeds. GPK was a great democratic hero in his last days but certainly not the greatest as it has been presented by some media. It was funny to see competition among people and media house to coronate him with so many adjectives like true democrats, people’s leaders, great freedom fighters from 2007 BS, etc. It seems that his death has brought so much agony and illusion among people that he has been transformed to a great great hero overnight and that too after his death. I think people’s perception on GPK should have been influenced by people’s short memory, which we generally tend to have and that works most of the time to our great advantage. However, if Koirala has to be missed, remembered, mourned, then all his goods and bad deeds must be considered with balance. His involvement in 2062-63 BS democratic movement alone cannot be the yardstick to measure his heights. We should also consider those notorious hallmarks that he had after he gained power in 1991 and always stuck there and did almost everything to thwart any democratic in house Nepali Congress’s movement to internal democracy in party.
I am aware of the fact that he has been remembered for his initiation of privatization and liberalization of our trade and economy post liberalization and democracy in Nepal after 1990. But, we should be equally mindful of the fact that his mismanagement of democracy and corruption culture brought severe threats to democracy – one of them being ‘Rising and Rising of Maoists’. If we thank him, appreciate him for bringing Maoists in mainstream democracy or democratic movement, or whatever you call or if you believe Maoists have come to the fold of democracy, but you cannot forgive, condone or pardon him lightly for creating that conducive environment for Maoists to breed. If he has cooperated within party for stable government and leadership and had he been not so power hungry, then, leaders could divert their attention to some meaningful actions, rather than protecting their chair from Girija’s arms or making Girija happy just to stick in power. For these things, Koirala should be remembered forever as he was a root of mismanagement or ill-governance in the country, and the fruits of his actions were Rise of thugs, called Maoists. Thankfully, may be stars or moon were on his right side, Koirala did reach some understanding with Maoists and removed king, which act alone became larger than his life and Koirala could die in little peace, and became a great leader in our History book, probably!!!
(There will be part two of this Article based on some facts, fictions, and my talk with People on the day GPK died. I am sure that will be another interesting read.)