Disregard of democratic intellectuals in NC

Likes of Yagya Adhikari are glaring examples

Jiba Raj Pokharel
Read Time = 8 mins

Nepali Congress(NC) has been through incredible ups and downs in its history.  It is like a sine curve which changes its phase every now and then. NC scaled a dizzy height when it got two third of majority in the 1957 election and subsequently formed Government under the charismatic leadership of B P Koirala. However, it appeared as a meteoric rise when the nascent democracy was nipped in the bud by King Mahendra by putting the elected Prime Minister behind the bar. He orchestrated a strange political outfit called Panchayat Democracy which moved in snail's speed when the countries like South Korea and the likes carried out development works in an exponential pace. As a result, dissent grew to such an extent that the Panchayat Democracy breathed its last immediately after the celebration of its silver jubilee.

The demise of the Panchayat Democracy was caused by the Peoples' Movement launched in the year 1990 under the joint leadership of the Nepali Congress and the Left Front with the Iron Persona and all acceptable Mr. Ganesh Man Singh in command. But behind the movement was the support of Nepali intelligentsia both from the right and the left. NC secured majority in the election and formed the Government under the Leadership of decisive Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala. This was yet another high political ascent of NC. But again it undertook a nose dive following the squabbles between the leaders Mr. Ganesh Man Singh and Girija Prasad Koirala.

One of the factors responsible for this state of affairs was again the dumping of the intellectuals in the back burner.

One of the factors responsible for this state of affairs was again the dumping of the intellectuals in the back burner. In the Mid Term Election which Mr. Koirala declared without heeding to the intellectuals' suggestion not to do so, NC did not perform as desired, with the United Marxists and Leninist (UML) emerging as the Largest Party in the Parliament. In the following years, a person like Mr. Krishna Khanal, Professor of Political Science, had to resign from the coveted Post of the Advisor to the Prime Minister Mr. Koirala. This was the first instance of the devaluation of the intellectuals in the party.

The lack of majority by a single party in the Parliament led to the mushrooming of several coalitions which were not based on political ideology but for the grabbing of power. It aggravated the political situation instead of mitigating it. Later, NC got a majority in the 1999 election but that was because of the division in UML with Bam Dev Gautam leading a splinter group and the presentation of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai as the Prime Minister by NC. He was not only an intellectual of the first water but also widely known as a saint politician marked by an umbrella and a pitcher among his earning as the Prime Minister.

This period was troubled by the Peoples War launched by the Maoists now mainly Maoists Central(MC). It was dominated by the murder of the politicians especially of NC followed by Rastriya Prajatantra Party and UML in that order of severity as  well as the attacks on the Government District Headquarters. In the meantime, there was a royal massacre which led to the demise of King Birendra with all his family members, Queen Aishwarya, Prince Dipendra and Princess Sruti to name a few. It is in this political gloom enveloping the country that Gyanendra came into the picture as the King. He orchestrated split in NC with Sher Bahadur Deuba leading the splinter Group whom he made the Prime Minister. Later, he dislodged Deuba dubbing him incompetent.

Girija Prasad Koirala realized that this political mishap had come into being due to many factors but chiefly due to the parties not listening to the voice of the people in general and those of intelligentsia in particular. Accordingly, he held a meeting of the intellectuals and professionals in Baneswore with the intellectuals and professionals preaching and the politicians listening to them. Gyanendra had already been the King in his infancy and he wanted to have a taste of it regarding how it is like as an adult. He declared himself an absolute Monarch by putting all the politicians behind bar or home arrest including Former Prime Minnister Girija Prasad Koirala.

Mr. Gyanendra followed the Panchayat days' approach to rule the country. He even appointed the Former Prime Minister Mr. Tulshi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista as the Prime Minister and his deputy. Obviously, days had passed by and this expired drug did not work. The political parties and the Maoists joined hands and mounted political offensive against Gyanendra which led to the ejection of 270 years old Monarchy out of the political arena in Nepal with the declaration of Republic and Federal Nepal through a Democratic Revolution of the year 2006. This Revolution also succeeded because of the support of the people in general but that of the professionals and intelligentsia in particular through an institution known as Peoples Association for Professionalism and Democracy(PAPAD).

Nepali Congress has been caught in political soup after the Bhutani Refugee Scam came into the open where the Former Minister of Home Affairs and a close supporter of President Sher Bahadur Deuba is being interrogated from police custody.

Despite this, the democratic intelligentsia continues to be ignored by the NC. The failure to create Department in the party despite the request to do so in innumerable times is a pointer to this direction. Occasionally, a lip service is paid but by promoting unseasoned democratic intellectuals who do not have knowledge of the evolution of democratic movement with respect to the untold suffering that it had to bear but rather on the basis of proximity. The promotion of such individuals on the basis of their brilliance and competence derived from education abroad coupled with the experience of working for the International Agencies very hastily to the notable positions like the Member and the Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission naturally raises their expectation and they do not hesitate to abandon and even join a new party under slightest dissatisfaction. A dedicated intelligentsia would never resign just being denied the ticket nor would imagine to elope to another party.  This short sightedness of the NC led to the defeat of its dedicated, honest and sincere members in the recently concluded bye-election.

NC has sidelined several democratic intelligentsias. One of them is certainly Mr. Yagya Prasad Adhikari despite having all the credentials to work for the NC. Professor Adhikari has a Masters in Political Science from Tribhuvan University and a Ph D from Benares University. A Former Executive Director of Centre for National and Asian Studies, he has worked for International Agencies like DFID and DANIDA. He has authored 11 books such as B P Koirala's deliberation of Democracy, Nationalism and Socialism. He has several articles published in the Journals and other newspapers to his credit. Now he is living in Bharatpur recovering from a serious accident. A person like him can contribute greatly by working for the Department of Political Affairs or the like of Nepali Congress. But he is forgotten by the Party and lies in a dumped state outside the capital city.

Nepali Congress has been caught in political soup after the Bhutani Refugee Scam came into the open where the Former Minister of Home Affairs and a close supporter of President Sher Bahadur Deuba is being interrogated from police custody. This appears as a mere tip of iceberg as rumors are rife that the nexus penetrates to the top level in party. While the UML has suspended Mr. Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Former Secretary of the party, NC has failed to do so and it has led to difference of opinion between the President and the Secretaries Gagan Thapa as well as Biswa Prakash Sharma. The Rastriya Swatantra Party(RSP) did well in Chitwan and Tanahu though it lost deposit in Bara, because they immediately removed Dhaka Kumar Shrestha for his implication in corrupt practice. It gave the impression to the people that though all the parties have some corrupt persons or the other, RSP does not let them go scot free as do the other parties. The experience of persons like Adhikari can be an asset for NC in the time of political uncertainty.

NC appears to be heading for yet another electoral debacle as it experienced in 2019 for not speaking out as clearly on the border blockage initiated by the Madheshi based parties which UML cashed heavily by speaking against it and emerged as the largest party. The hushed silence on Bhutani Refugee Scam also may land NC in similar position in the forthcoming election. NC should thus secure the support of peoples, party volunteers and democratic professionals as well as intelligentsia in order to avoid the probable political mishap in the future.

The author is the former Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).


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