Biswesor Prasad Koirala and Pushpalal Shrestha are two icons of Nepali politics who appear today to have been so successful that they have reduced themselves to irrelevance. That the Nepali Congress saw no political relevance in observing B.P. Koirala’s birth anniversary this year and that Nepali communists should down play Pushpalal’s birth anniversary as well is remarkable in the least. This is especially so in the background of the fact that the Nepali population had been so inundated by their lionization over the decades since 1950 that the seemingly coordinated down-playing of the occasions cannot be without political relevance. B.P. helped found the Nepali Congress which over the years championed multi-party democracy in the country and Pushpalal helped establish the Communist movement in the country. Both parties still continue to dominate Nepali politics and he communists are in government with elements still in the opposition while the Nepali Congress is the parliamentary opposition in the country. Why, at this juncture, the two have decided to politically down play the two marks a curious aberration in Nepali politics that deserves more than cursory attention.
In contrast to B.P., the party Pushpalal had helped found may in later years be classed as a movement since it saw numerous splinters and segments in his very lifetime. It is a conglomerate of communist parties that combined under the Nepal Communist Party- United Marxists Leninist tailored by the newly emergent Madan Bhandary who gave it the Janatako Bhaudaliya Janabad ideology for unification under which the Pushpalal faction was a small but influential representation. Pushpalal as a founder of the communist movement in Nepal is recognized by the many splinters that were not absorbed by the UML among which are the so called Maoists who today compose the other half of the NCP-NCP in which both Maoists and the UML merged and are currently in government with overwhelming repr4esentation. Those communists in and outside parliament who subscribe to communism under various part names and leaders also acknowledge Pushpalal as the founder of their movement if not their party. All have been in one way or the other paying their obeisance to this icon ever since his death and what should motivate the downplaying of his anniversary this year when they currently so visibly dominate Nepali politics cannot merely raise eyebrows.
Pushpalal at least had his competition during his lifetime. His Nepal Communist party saw many birth and rebirths in many manifestations under severely challenging leaders who splintered on grounds of ideological purity. B.P.’s is a different story altogether. Whether in jail or outside the country, B.P. had so managed to edge out and outdo his competition that he overwhelmed the party and the party managed to overwhelm the movement for multi-party democracy in the country. B.P. was the ultimate democrat in the country and his party managed to tout it well at home and abroad. Indeed, particularly since the restoration of the multi-party system in the country, any B.P. occasion was ruse for the Nepali Congress to vilify any and all his opponents and the lay democrat could not but agree and dismiss this vilification as mere politics. So, when the Nepali Congress departs from the conventional use of B.P. as rallying point for democrats, there is something amiss both in Nepali Congress and the body politics as such. After all, any in depth analysis of B.P. Koirala cannot begrudge him his place in history. With merely eighteen months heading an elected government in the country B.P. towered over all politicians and continues to do so even today whatever the repercussions of this reality on the body politic.