Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ensuring Early Election For Institutionalizing Democracy in Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
 Former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan said, "Democracy must be more than free elections, but it is true that it cannot be less". Periodic elections based on adult franchise ensuring free choice of the voters to elect their representatives is a basic tenet of democracy without which we cannot even imagine democracy let alone practice it. At the same time, election alone does not guarantee democracy.
Democracy and elections
It is true that democracy is more than election. But election is the heart and soul of democracy. Election for the sake of election does not ensure democracy. Elections should be free, fair and impartial enabling the voters to vote without any fear and apprehension. Not all elections are free and fair. Even dictators hold the election seeking legitimisation of their own authoritarian regimes. But such elections are often engineered and manipulated for which people and parties in power misuse authority to bring the election results in their favour.  Such elections do not reflect the real feelings of the people. Even Sddam Hussein of Iraq used to hold elections in which his Baathist Party would get more than 95 per cent votes. There are similar cases in other parts of the world in which elections are held, but they have hardly reflected the genuine feelings of the people.  Such elections are not genuine election, but mere attempts to deceive the people and the international community.
Even in the newly emerging democracies of the developing countries, all elections are not totally free and fair. But there is no other alternative. Free and fair elections are also part of democratisation process. Democratisation process does not complete overnight, but takes a long time, patience and energy. So free and fair election is closely linked with the process of democratisation of the society and institution building endeavours. As our democracy is getting mature so is our electoral and election process.
Regular and periodic elections allowing people to freely choose their representatives are a key prerequisite of democracy. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the will of the people expressed in the periodic and fair elections should be the source of authority in a state. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also states that the right of the citizens to vote and be elected is the fundamental human rights. Several other international instruments have clearly stressed the need for free and fair election on periodic manner to ensure representative democracy and people's participation in the political process and decision-making.
Nepal is a signatory to these international instruments by which it has expressed its full commitment to democracy, human rights and free elections. Nepal has adopted a fully democratic constitution ensuring inclusive representation of the people in its political decision-making process.  In the process of ensuring representation of all sections and sectors of the country, the constitution of Nepal, which was adopted in 2015, has made the provision of two types of electoral systems. One is the 'first-past-the post' system and the other is the proportionate representation.
Under the first-post-the-past system, a candidate, who gets the most votes, is elected. This is the system in which the winner takes all, while the losers will lose everything. In such a case there may not be fair and judicial representation of communities that are hitherto unrepresented or under-represented. The proportionate system has been adopted to do away with this malaise and ensure representation of all sections and sectors.
But both systems have their merits and demerits. The first-past-the-post system is the one that has been in practice in Nepal since long.  According to critics, the first-past-the-post system does not ensure representation of all sections and sectors. Moreover, this is the system under which the losers will have no representation at all. In view of these demerits of the first-past-the-post electoral system, the proportionate election was devised which seeks to ensure representation of all sections in the political decision-making process.
It is said that none loses in the proportionate electoral system, but all win. The parties get the representatives based on the votes they secure in the election. It ensures the representation of all kinds of ideologies, parties and section on the basis of popular votes. So this election system ensures representation of all the contesting parties. Its proponents call the proportionate system as the most democratic and representative electoral system. Critics are of the view that this system creates political instability in the country. The marked demerit of the proportionate electoral system is that there is likelihood that this system may always produce a hung parliament with no single party securing majority in the parliament to form the government of its own. In such a case, governments are always fragile and unstable. Similarly, parties have to come together to form the government in the absence of a single party having majority and it, as also seen in Nepal for the last one-decade, creates the ground for frequent change of the governments. This demerit is more particularly felt in developing or newly emerging democracies in the world, including Nepal.  However, this is the problem only in the developing countries. The proportionate election system does not have any problem in the developed countries.
In Asia, Israel has been successfully practicing this system. Similarly, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway) and some other European countries have the proportionate election system and they have absolutely no problem. The proportionate system of election is perfectly working in the developed countries and has built a good coalition culture. But the problem is only in the developing countries because democratic culture has not fully developed. Democracy is a system which seeks to build co-existence, collaboration, cooperation and compromise. The proportionate election system also promotes cooperation and collaboration among the political parties, ideologies and interest groups.
Limited Options
In Nepal, elections are round the corner. Three elections need to be held within the next one year. In practical sense, three elections will have to be held within the next nine months from June onward. The Election Commission has sought at least four months to make preparations after the election dates are announced. That means election cannot be held until May end if the election was announced now. Moreover, there are other conditions which determine the timely elections. Given the climatic condition of Nepal, elections may not be held during the monsoon or rainy season (June to early September). Soon after the rainy season is over, the festival season begins. Thus September and early October, too, may not be practically feasible to hold the election. Elections, therefore, need to be held either in June and early July or from mid-October to early December. The time from late December till March is practically not appropriate to conduct the election due to severe winter.
 Given this situation, we have very limited options to hold the election. But elections are possible even within limited time options if the government, the political parties and the Election Commission work together seriously. Elections are a must to institutionalise democracy and implement the constitution. Thus, the political parties are now required to shed their partisan differences and clear all legal and political hurdles to ensure the three levels of election by January next year.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Three’s a crowd ( Nepal-China-India trilateral partnership)

Yuba Nath Lamsal

Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda has once again broached the old idea of Nepal-China-India trilateral partnership. Ever since he first mooted the idea way back in 2009, during his visit to Beijing as an opposition leader, Prachanda has been talking about it on various occasions and forums. The idea in itself is not bad, as it seeks to bring China and India closer in Nepal’s development, thereby, turning Nepal into a hub of economic activity between Asia’s two giant economic powers. However, things may be easier said than done. Given the state of strategic rivalry and security susceptibility between New Delhi and Beijing, the proposition still appears far-fetched, at least in the immediate future. 

China seems to be positive on this, but India is hesitant. China views the trilateral partnership from economic perspective, trying to fit it into its signature ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) project. The OBOR in itself is a grand project focusing on connectivity and economic integration of countries, regions and continents with the Chinese economy, which Beijing calls a ‘win-win opportunity for all’. However, from New Delhi’s point of view, the OBOR is Beijing’s strategic muscle-flexing in Asia, aimed at further strengthening the ‘string of pearls’ to encircle India. Obsessed, perhaps, with this notion, India has expressed its reservation on OBOR and particularly on OBOR’s South Asia projects—’China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC) and ‘Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar’ (BCIM) corridor—forget participating in them. 

This is what has brought New Delhi and Washington into strategic partnership, purportedly to contain China. The OBOR may be China’s strategic project, but it, if realized in a way China wants, brings benefits to neighbors like Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar alike. Connectivity creates economic opportunities and boosts inter-country trade. The OBOR, as it appears, seeks to achieve this and ensure connectivity among countries, regions and continents. 

The CPEC connects China’s Kashgar with Pakistan’s state-of-art Gwadar port—being constructed in the Arabian Sea with Chinese assistance—through a road that passes through some contested areas in Pakistan’s side of Kashmir. India contests that the CPEC will bring more terrorist threat than economic benefits. In India’s view, the CPEC will give more strategic leverage to both China and Pakistan, as it provides China with shortest surface passage to the warm water Arabian Sea while it helps Pakistan reach out to energy-rich and Muslim-dominated Central Asian countries. 

India fears that the CPEC success will disturb power equilibrium in South Asia as it will further strengthen strategic and security alliance and cooperation between China and Pakistan. India, therefore, does not want the CPEC to come about. But China and Pakistan are determined to construct this corridor for which China has already allocated budget and Pakistan made security arrangements so that the CPEC will be completed within the target timeframe. 

Similar is the case with the BCIM. It is an international highway that begins from Kunming of China’s Yunnan province and goes through Myanmar, Bangladesh and finally reaches Kolkata of India. This, if realized, will give China direct access to huge Indian markets whereas India, Bangladesh and Myanmar can trade not only with China but also with South East Asian countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia through this same route.

China, Myanmar and Bangladesh are willing whereas India is reluctant as New Delhi again raises security concerns, saying that this road corridor, after it crosses India-Bangladesh border, will pass through areas close to the ‘Chicken’s Neck’. This is a narrow strip of land connecting India’s mainland with its north eastern provinces—of Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal areas where China and India fought a border war in 1962—before it reaches Kolkata. 

In Arunachal China and India still have border disputes and the border is thus heavily guarded. India’s other fear is that if the CPEC and the BCIM come into operation India may lose its monopoly in the Indian Ocean. Some Indian analysts believe that the BCIM is China’s strategic card, which will pose a big security threat to India. New Delhi thus cannot compromise its security in the name of economic benefits. This implies that India is not at all interested in joining the China’s OBOR project and may even be willing to obstruct it.

Soon after China announced the OBOR and unveiled its different components, India was quick to announce its own ‘Look East’ policy—later rephrased as ‘Act East’ policy.

Critics see this as India’s counter-strategy to contain the OBOR and reach out to East Asian countries, mainly China’s eastern and south-eastern neighbors, with which Beijing has territorial and maritime disputes. The BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal grouping) initiative and connectivity scheme within BBIN countries is India’s yet another strategic move vis-à-vis the OBOR. Although the BCIM is a component of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s brainchild OBOR, the Chinese project may be a boon for India’s Act East policy as well, but only if China and India are willing to cooperate. But it is unlikely given the rivalry and susceptibility between the two countries.

Coming back to the trilateral partnership concept, India, while dealing with China, is least interested in any scheme that involves a third country. India seeks to deal with China bilaterally while China has kept all options open—bilateral, tri-lateral, regional and multi-lateral. When Prachanda mooted the idea of trilateral cooperation in 2009, Beijing responded quickly and positively while India expressed its reservation. India’s then foreign minister Salman Khursid dismissed it as an immature idea. Thus trilateral cooperation, despite Nepal’s push and China’s willingness, is not likely to come into fruition. India may be keen to engage and expand areas of cooperation with China bilaterally. New Delhi, however, does not want Nepal to come in between, while China’s approach is different as it is prepared to deal with its neighbors in whatever way it is convenient to do so. 

The problem is also with the perception and big power psychology. First, the trilateral idea was raised by Nepal, this too by someone who was not in power and someone not considered ‘India’s friend’. Second, New Delhi’s establishment tends to look at Nepal and Bhutan as its backyard and as under its traditional sphere of influence. India is always susceptible to any kind third country involvement in Nepal. More specifically, India is obsessed with the fear that China’s growing presence in Nepal will ultimately threaten India’s traditional influence. If India thinks Nepal is its backyard, China may consider Nepal as its front-yard and gateway to South Asia. 

This perceptual difference may hit the trilateral concept. Prachanda raised this concept as a purely developmental construct with investment and participation of all three countries, particularly on Nepal’s hydro and infrastructural sectors. Nepal has huge hydro potential but not the required funds. India has a huge market for energy but limited sources to tap whereas China has money and expertise. 

Trilateral understanding, cooperation and partnership will not only expedite infrastructure-development in the region but also boost trade and give the region collective bargaining power in the international arena. After all, strategic and security concerns that do not let these countries work together for mutual benefit and common prosperity is just stupid politics. 
( Published in the Republica English daily on January 19, 2017)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Parties and democratic culture

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Politics in a democratic system is a clash of ideas, ideologies and sometimes of egos. Multiple players with multiple interests compete in the game of power, for which different options and alternatives are explored and experimented. This often leads to conflict and confrontation in the society, but can be finally dealt with through negation and dialogue. This is the beauty of democracy.
Natural dynamics
Conflict is a natural dynamics of a vibrant society, without which civilisation hardly advances. The conflict management is an intricate art through which an amicable solution is sought to ensure maximum acceptability. There can never be a universal acceptability on any issue in the present complicated and asymmetric world.
Nepal is a diverse country not merely on ethnic, lingual and cultural identity, but also in ideas, ideals and ideologies. The composition of our parliament reflects this great diversity of political ideas and ideologies. The parliament is composed of all rightists, centrists, leftists, regionalists, racists, liberals, conservatives, seculars, federalist and anti-federalists. The electoral system we have adopted that has ensured representation not only of all ethnic clusters, but also all ideas and ideologies.
In a diverse society like ours, it is natural to have conflicts. These conflicts are of varied nature, forms and manifestations.  It is, therefore, necessary to adopt prudent methods and approaches to handle and manage these conflicts, for which those in the leadership have greater responsibility.
What we must take into account is the fact that nothing in this world can be acceptable to all.  What is to be done in this context is that we must try to find at least maximum acceptability. If we seek to find universal acceptability on any issue, it will just be next to impossible and such an effort will only lead to failure.
Democracy is a system that guarantees right to disagree and dissent. Individuals, groups and parties may disagree on a particular issue, but they must accept the rules of game. In our developing democracy, finding universal acceptability will be even harder because our society is more diverse but conservative. We have different ideas, interests, ideologies and thoughts at work in our politics and we keep on fighting on each and every issue. If we look at events and developments, more particularly after the country was declared a republic, there is no single issue that has been free from dispute. The nature of political parties is to dissent and this should be taken as a natural phenomenon.
 Conflict is, therefore, a part of vibrant and diverse society. The conflict we have in our political arena is to be taken along the similar line. But it should not be taken just for a granted. The political and other conflicts, if not addressed and resolved in time and in an appropriate manner, may flare up in a way that may ultimately lead to hatred and violence in the society—the point about which all of us more particularly the leadership must be alert. In such a case, the conflict may become protracted leading to perpetual crisis. This is exactly what is being felt in the present context of Nepal. As a result, sustainable political solution seems to be an illusion simply because the roots of conflict have not been identified and addressed properly.
Is the conflict that we are facing in Nepal political, social, ethnic, cultural or economic? In a way, it is all. But efforts were made only to resolve political conflict leaving all others unsettled. Political conflict can be resolved relatively more easily and quickly. Lesser efforts have been made to resolve other conflicts. Given the nature and gravity of other conflicts, it requires prudent approach, more time, patience and tolerance to see the results even if measures are taken to address them. Unfortunately, we seem to have only done lip service to address these conflicts on practical terms only focusing on the political conflict.
Ethnic, cultural and social issues, too, are important and need to be resolved. But what is to be taken into account more seriously is that economic conflict is the root of all conflicts. Other conflicts can be automatically resolved to a large extent, if we resolve political and economic conflicts. Political and economic conflicts are the core while ethnic, social and cultural issues are peripheral. But we have given too much focus on core issues totally ignoring the peripheral subjects. This is, perhaps, the reason why we are facing perpetual crisis in Nepal and saw the mother of all conflicts in the form of decade-long armed insurgency.
We have so far tried to resolve the political conflict, but not in a way that satisfies all. It is not to say that ethnic, social and cultural issues are less important. Given the nature of our conflict, political and economic issues require first and the foremost priority, if we are to find a sustainable solution to our crisis. If economic and political conflicts are left unresolved, settlement of other issues alone would not bring about sustainable peace and stability.
However, even the political conflict has not been settled in our country. The constitution we adopted last year seems to be still a bone of contention. Although the constitution was adopted with the participation of more than 90 per cent elected people's representatives in the Constituent Assembly, the statute remains to be fully implemented in the absence of acceptance by a section of the country, namely the Madhesis. If we honour the rule of game and democracy, we must accept the decision of the majority. Madhesis may have their disgruntlement, but they need to take the ownership of the constitution since it was adopted by the 90 per cent members of the Constituent Assembly to which they are also part. Thus, the Madhesis need to first take ownership of the constitution and simultaneously advance the process of its amendment. This is the proper and democratic way. The constitution is being amended because the Madhesis have not accepted it. What if other groups and sections did not accept the amended constitution?
Serious majority
The ruling parties seem to be more liberal and accommodating and are trying to address the concerns and demands of the Madhesis and janajatis, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority accepted the constitution. The spirit of democracy is that the decision of the majority should prevail and concerns of the minority, too, be addressed. It is with this spirit the ruling parties have tabled the constitution amendment bill in parliament. When the majority is serious about the concerns and demands of the minority, the minority, too, needs to be more flexible and accommodating especially when the ruling parties have faced stiff criticism and pressure from the opposition, which is seeking to fail the constitution amendment bill.
Moreover, the opposition party also needs to take into account the fact that the entire political purpose will be defeated and the political process fail, if the constitution is not fully implemented. For the implementation of the constitution, three tiers of election must be held within a year. If the constitution fails, our democracy will fail, our entire efforts and energy for the last one decade will be wasted and conflict will resurgent again. This requires all political parties, both ruling and the opposition, to be more flexible and act accordingly so that the country will enter into an era of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Blame Game Is No Solution

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Political polarisation has further sharpened in Nepal giving rise to general speculations that politics is getting more unpredictable. One does not know what exactly our political course will be like in near future. The political parties appear to be in confrontational mood for their existential strategy especially on the issue pertaining to the constitution amendment bill that has already been tabled in the parliament.
Just a proposal
Ever since the bill was registered in the parliament, the opposition parties were raising a big hue and cry and vowed not to let this bill to be brought to the floor of the House for even discussion. However, the bill has finally entered into the business of the House despite objection from the opposition parties. What is to be taken into account is the fact that the bill is just a proposal to be discussed in the supreme body of the elected representatives. The parliament is sovereign and it can endorse or reject the bill. There is no question about the supremacy and prerogatives of the parliament. The issue here is that the parliament should be allowed to debate on matters of national importance and else it would be a violation of sovereign right of the people's elected representatives.
The way both the ruling and opposition parties are upping the ante itself suggests that the constitution amendment bill is important and has national significance. The ruling parties want to pass the bill to address the demands and concerns of the Madhesi and Janajati groups so that it will be easy to implement the constitution. The Madhesi parties, too, are in favour of the bill. However, opposition parties have crossed their swords and seem determined to fail the bill. The opposition parties, especially the CPN-UML has termed the bill unconstitutional and is against the interest of the nation. Even a section of the ruling coalition namely Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) is not in the mood of accepting the bill in the present form. It is demanding its modification.
 Whatever the stance and position of the political parties on the bill are, the number game will play key role as it requires a two-thirds majority for its passage. If the ruling parties and Madhesis remain united, they will easily manage to pass the bill. Similar case is with the opposition. The CPN-UML has now the strategy to fail the bill during voting by not allowing the ruling parties to have two-thirds majority. The CPN-UML alone does not have one-third majority. Both the ruling and opposition parties are confident in their victory. However, this is not a question of win or loss of a particular party or parties. This is the question of win or loss of the constitution, nation, our republican set-up and democracy. Our political parties and leaders are expected to give serious thoughts towards this and  act accordingly.
However, the political situation is getting more unpredictable and uncertain. This uncertainty is further deepening as the parties and leaders seem to be pursuing their own partisan agenda rather than working collectively on national agenda. This has led to public apathy towards politics and institutions, which is not at all good for our fledgling democratic polity.
In a multi-party democracy, the political parties are the key actors and their role is crucial in strengthening democracy and democratic culture. Democracy without political parties cannot be imagined. Our democracy is young and fledgling, so are our political parties. Our political parties and leaders definitely have many weaknesses and may often have made mistakes. But there is no alternative to the political parties. The political parties and their leaders are also the product of our society and they represent our general tendency and mindset. Moreover, as democracy is slowly getting mature, the leaders are also learning and getting mature. It takes time to build genuine democratic culture and democratic institution. In Nepal, institutions are still weak and thus democracy is fledgling and weak.
In the process of democratisation, we are slow but we are moving steadily. There is no going back. In this process we have seen many ups and downs, experienced hurdles and suffered occasional setbacks and sufferings. But we have kept the flame of democracy and freedom alive, thanks largely to the political parties and their leaders for their persistent and sustained fight and sacrifice. This is the positive aspect of our parties.
Our political parties have glorious history and the contribution made by their leaders is huge and unforgettable. The Nepali Congress led the revolution for democracy and succeeded in ushering in democracy in 1951. When democracy was strangulated by the king, the Nepali Congress kept the struggle alive until multi-party democracy was restored in 1990. During this long and relentless struggle, several of its cadres and leaders sacrificed their lives and many suffered jail terms and were forced to go on exile. Finally, their struggle yielded fruits. Similarly, the history and contribution of the CPN-UML, too, is glorious as it made a huge contribution to emancipate the country and people from various forms of feudal exploitations and oppressions and also establish the democratic polity. Initially the CPN-UML formerly known as CPN-ML advocated the Chinese model of new democracy through armed revolution, for which it launched an armed revolt in Jhapa. However, this revolt launched with a motive of 'eliminating class enemies' was limited to only eastern Nepal mainly in Jhapa, where some landlords were killed. This is known as Jhapa incident, but its armed struggle failed, which compelled the CPN-ML to adopt the peaceful mobilisation of people to achieve its goal. This party also played a key role along with the Nepali Congress in the 1989-90 movement, which succeeded to restore democratic polity in Nepal.
Another key party is the CPN-Maoist Center, formerly known as CPN-Maoist. This party launched a decade-long armed insurgency to establish new democracy, but later joined the peaceful politics in 2006 following a signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the government. This party, too, has its own unique contribution to Nepal's politics because the country's politics is currently revolving around the agendas it raised. Republican set-up, secularism and inclusive democracy are all the agendas of this party.
These parties and their principal leaders deserve commendation for their untiring efforts, contribution and sacrifice for what political achievements we have made. Some people blame the parties and their leaders for the political mess in the country. The parties and leaders are definitely responsible to this to a large extent. But we citizens, too, cannot escape from the blame. It is said that people get the government they deserve. In the similar vein, people get the leaders they deserve. We citizens, too, are responsible for the types of parties and leaders we have. If citizens are conscious, informed and alert, the leaders will be compelled to be more accountable. But Nepal's politics and political leaders are least accountable and transparent. It is because of the indifference on the part of citizenry viz-a-viz politics.
The politicians may not be clean, transparent and accountable, but other sectors, too, are not altogether morally virtuous. We have institutions but they are not functioning like institutions but often behave like extended arm of political parties. We have civil society, but it tends to be aligned with the parties and carry partisan agenda. The institutions are politicised and politics is getting bureaucratic. In a way, we all are responsible for the mess and mismanagement we have in the country at present.
The political parties and leaders may have fared badly at present, but their roles, contribution and sacrifice in the past are definitely praiseworthy. Their consistent but resilient struggle and sacrifice have enabled us to enjoy freedom and democratic rights. We should not forget this aspect. The general tendency we have at present is to put all the blames on politics, parties and leaders. These accusations are sometimes spontaneous and sometimes calculated. This tendency appears more calculated move to weaken and vilify the new political dispensation mainly the republican set up. We achieved the republican system following a long struggle and sacrifice. So we must be guard against any kind of sinister attempts from any quarters that are likely to sabotage the new found republican system. The political parties and their leaders must  correct themselves. Defending them and helping them to correct are the duty of the citizens.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Relevance Of Reconciliation

Yuba Nath Lamsal
In the life of a state, an individual may be insignificant. Yet, individuals are always important as they are the ones who make the nation because territory alone does not make a nation state. It is the collective expression of the people living within a given boundary that creates a state and the citizens' shared assertion is sovereignty.
Individuals are often swayed by the mass psychology, but there are always a few individuals who make a difference and leave a distinct mark in the life of the nation. In politics, all political activists cannot be politicians and all politicians cannot be leaders. It is easy to be a political activist, but not a leader. To be a leader of any level, one has to possess certain leadership quality and a level of trust of the voters. More difficult is to become statesman. Leaders are an average people who are concerned with and work for the interest of the party. But there are a rare breed of people who are above average politicians and leaders. They are the statesmen. There can be many leaders, but only a few statesmen.  The statesman is concerned with the country's broader national interest, but least interested in a narrow partisan agenda. This is the reason why statesmen are above general politicians and leaders. These are the people or statesmen who have made a difference in the life of the country, are remembered and revered for generations.
Visionary politician
In the modern political history, BP Koirala is one of the few politicians who command high respect in Nepal and elsewhere in South Asia for his unflinching faith and struggle for freedom and democracy. A nation rarely produces visionary politicians and statesmen like BP Koirala. He is the founder of Nepali Congress and commander of the 1950 revolution that toppled the century-old Rana's family oligarchy and established multi-party democracy. It was BP, when he led the first ever elected government in Nepal, initiated several revolutionary measures for the institutionalisation of democracy and economic development in the country.
However, his reforms measures came under scathing attack from the feudal elements and the elected prime minister was removed from power through a bloodless coup led by the king, which pushed the country to a long political tyranny of 30 years. But he kept his struggle for democracy and freedom, no matter where he was. Given the socio-political nature of the country, he reached the conclusion that neither capitalism nor communism was the solution to Nepal's problem and he adopted democratic socialism as the programme of the Nepali Congress. The democratic socialism is the system that guarantees multi-party political system, open society, human rights and individual liberty and egalitarian economic system. Since then democratic socialism has been the official policy of the Nepali Congress.
The other yet more remarkable BP's contribution is the policy of national reconciliation. BP returned to Nepal pursuing the policy of national reconciliation in 1977 as he clearly sensed the signs of danger looming on Nepal's nationalism and national identity. After Sikkim was annexed to Indian Union in 1975, BP might have sensed that Nepal would also meet similar fate if the forces in Nepal remained divided. BP thought that the king, too, felt the simmering danger and would be willing to work with the parties to safeguard the nation. He hoped that the king would agree to restore democracy so that all national forces could work together which, he thought, was necessary not only to safeguard the independence of the country but also to push Nepal forward onto the path of prosperity. However, the king did not feel and reciprocate the way BP did. For BP, democracy was the bottom-line for such cooperation among the political forces of Nepal.
Since then, BP's party, the Nepali Congress, has been marking the National Reconciliation Day on Poush 16 every year. This year also the day was observed with variety of programmes in which political and social luminaries spoke on BP's contribution and relevance of national reconciliation. In principle, there is no doubt that the national reconciliation is equally relevant today as it used to be back in 1977. However, not many efforts have been made to analyse why BP's national reconciliation policy did not succeed when BP was still alive whereas it succeeded only after his death. 
The fundamental difference was in its nature and objective. The objective of BP's reconciliation was to work together with the king against the communists. Moreover, BP did not properly evaluate the motive and nature of monarchy. The monarchy was a feudal institution that survived on stoking the pseudo fire of patriotism and designating the democratic forces, mainly the Nepali Congress, as the 'foreign agents', whereas, BP proposed collaboration with the king. At the same time, BP ignored and even loathed to work with other patriotic forces like the communists for democratic restoration. He even assailed the communists and praised the monarchy. This created rift between the Nepali Congress and the communists, from which the monarchy reaped benefit. As a result, BP could neither unite the anti-monarchy or democratic forces nor could he win the trust of the king.
After BP's death, the mantle of the Nepali Congress party went to Ganeshman Singh. Ganeshman Singh's analysis of the contemporary society, political situation and political forces of Nepal was different from BP’s. For Ganeshman Singh, monarchy was the anti-democratic institution, which could not be a patriotic force. He thought that communists were more patriotic and democratic than the king. Thus, Ganeshman Singh forged alliance with all other anti-king forces namely the communist to launch a decisive movement against the then despotic regime called the Panchayat in which Ganeshman Singh succeeded.
Fruitful approach
Under the grand leadership of Ganeshman Singh, multi-party democracy was restored in 1990, for which Ganeshman Singh has been respected by all political forces of Nepal, whereas BP could be the leader of the Nepali Congress alone. The fundamental difference between BP's national reconciliation and Ganeshman Singh's reconciliation is that BP proposed reconciliation with the king and failed, whereas Ganeshman Singh pushed for reconciliation with the democratic forces and succeeded.  It is, however, unfortunate that this aspect does not figure in the debate of the relevance and significance of national reconciliation. BP is, no doubt, the one who first proposed national reconciliation policy but his reconciliation approach failed. The national reconciliation policy and the approach Ganeshman Singh pursued became successful. It is Ganeshman Singh who put the BP's national reconciliation policy into practice, which bore real fruit. This aspect needs due commendation and analysis.
National reconciliation is more relevant at present than ever before. The national reconciliation should be forged with the democratic and progressive forces and it should not be with the regressive and reactionary forces. Although monarchy is now gone, monarchists are still trying to raise heads and regain their lost laurels against which all including the Nepali Congress activists must be vigilant.