Remembering his contributions
Added At: 2011-03-20 9:14 PM
PROF. BIRENDRA P MISHRA
The people remember Kishunji as a leader who did not take anything in reward from the nation‚ as he spent a long political life of simplicity‚ preferred to go to jail‚ making people laugh at his witty remarks‚ and with a rival like GP Koirala in politics. His death has really left hundreds of people deprived of his kind and warm treatment
Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, who was affectionately called Kishunji by his party colleagues and others, breathed his last on March 4, 2011 due to multiple organ failure. He, too, like many others, wanted to live a hundred years, as he himself had wished so on his 87th birthday some time back, but could not survive more to fulfill his desire.
In his demise, the Nepali Congress (NC) has lost the last surviving founder-member of the party, and the nation lost the senior most leader, who struggled continuously for democracy with a record of more than a dozen years in jail during the three decades of the partyless panchayat system.
Bhattarai was born in India and had received his entire education in India. He had a master’s degree in economics from B.H.U., Varanasi. He entered politics while he was at B.H.U. along with his colleagues. He met BP Koirala in Varanasi and founded the political organization later named as Nepali Congress, as political activities were banned in Nepal by the then Rana regime. He was the speaker of the first elected House of Representatives in 1959. The parliament was dissolved by the then king in December, 1959, and all senior leaders including him were put behind bars.
He became prime minister twice in his long political life. For the first time, after the first People’s Movement, which dislodged the Panchayat system, he was made PM with three specific obligations. First, he had to get a constitution proclaimed by the then king duly drafted by the constitutional experts chosen by the political parties within six months; secondly, to hold elections to parliament and lastly, to maintain the administration, which was made topsy-turvy due to the movement. He completed his task successfully. In the election that followed, NC won the majority in the House, but he was defeated.
Bhattarai had the opportunity to lead the party at a very crucial juncture of its history. The first tenure of Bhattarai lasted for more than a year completing all his responsibilities, while another could not complete even a year. The second time he was made the PM after he was elected to the Lower House in the third general election held in 1999, as the NC had campaigned with the slogan to make him the PM. He was replaced by GP Koirala as PM, who had the majority in the parliamentary party. He, too, could not last for long as he was again replaced by SB Deuba, a Bhattarai loyalist, who not only dissolved the parliament, but also split the party.
Most of the senior leaders were either in exile in India or in different jails in Nepal when parliament was dissolved in 1959. He always preferred to live in Nepal, and for that he was always ready to go to jail. His continued presence in the country was valuable support for his party workers and democracy supporters, which proved to be an asset for his political career as well. He was formally elected as party president in 1992 and was subsequently replaced by his arch rival late GP Koirala in the next party convention. He saved the party from division in 1994, when the three-year old GP Koirala-led government suffered a defeat in passing the motion of thanks to the the king in the Lower House, after his own party MPs did not support the motion. Of course, the party rebels were his supporters and half a dozen of them were removed by Koirala from his cabinet a few months earlier. Kishunji was at times treated as such a leader in Nepal who was interpreted differently for his remarks; sometimes as witty and satirical by his supporters on the one hand and in different light by others, on the other. Once he remarked to have a seat in the Parliament to meet the expenses of his hard drinks. His support for monarchy did not go down well with the people. Similarly, his anti-Indian remarks in 1990 general election and 1993 by-election, in which he was humbled by the leaders of the CPN (UML), could not bring him success, as perhaps he was swayed away by the then existing nationalism based on anti-Indian statements. Moreover, GP Koirala was bent on opposing his election to the House tooth and nail, presuming him as his competitor for the PM’s post. Had Kishunji been elected to the parliament after the 1990 constitution was promulgated, the politics of Nepal could have been different from what we have today.
Kishunji was very often depicted as a saint leader with no property of his own except his mere personal belongings. It was true he had no house of his own to live in. The government had made available a house to him recently. But, unfortunately, he was cherishing a desire to become PM for the third time knowing well that he was incapable of moving physically on his own. Perhaps, on account of this very desire, he could not desist himself from making statements in favour of the monarchy.
In short, the people will remember him as a leader who did not take anything in reward from the nation as he spent a long political life of simplicity, preferred to go to jail, making people laugh at his witty remarks, and with a rival like GP Koirala in politics. His death has really left hundreds of people deprived of his kind and warm treatment, which they were getting from him.
* Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in Wikipedia:
*Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Former Premier of Nepal, Dies at 87
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 10, 2011
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, a former prime minister who led a popular movement to restore multiparty democracy to Nepal in 1990, died here last Friday. He was 87.
(Krishna Prasad Bhattarai-former Prime Minister of Nepal)
Binod Joshi/Associated Press
Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in 2007.
The cause was multiple organ failure, said Mr. Bhattarai’s physician, Dr. Bharat Rawat.
Mr. Bhattarai served as prime minister twice, beginning his first term in 1990. He served again in 1999 and 2000.
After multiparty democracy was restored in 1990, he was appointed prime minister of an interim government comprising representatives from his Nepali Congress Party and several Communist parties.
During his year in power, he conducted Nepal’s first free elections in 30 years and enforced a new Constitution that guaranteed democratic rights.
He became prime minister again at the end of the decade after the Congress Party won elections. Feuds in that faction-ridden party, however, forced him to step down after nine months.
As prime minister, Mr. Bhattarai made official visits to India, Japan and Britain, and led the Nepalese delegation to a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in 1990 in the Maldives. His strong stands against corruption and nepotism helped him gain popularity.
Mr. Bhattarai spent nearly 14 years in prison for opposing the autocratic system imposed in Nepal in 1960.
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