March 21, 2010
Five-time Prime Minister and a central architect of the peace negotiations that ended a decade of Maoist insurgency, Girija Prasad Koirala died on Saturday at his daughter’s residence in Kathmandu.
Koirala, who began his career in mid-20th century as a trade union leader from a jute mill in Biratnagar, was exiled to India for taking part in a pro-democracy movement opposing the absolute rule of Nepal's hereditary Rana prime ministers. He hailed from a family that produced three siblings who would become prime ministers, including B.P. Koirala (1914-1982), perhaps the most important political leader in Nepal’s modern history.
In spite of the fact that G.P.’s leadership was marred by feuds within the Nepali Congress, a contentiousness that developed into a party split and stoked the Maoist insurgency due to rising corruption, Koirala’s opposition to King Gyanendra's autocratic reign put him in good stead with much of the general public.
Although Koriala was regarded as an unwavering friend of India – the polar opposite of the Maoist party’s predilection for China – he was often cited as the “only leader of stature who could hold the bickering parties together.” His profound centrality to Nepali politics was demonstrated up to the final day of his life, when President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda all visited him at his deathbed.
Many analysts agree that the passing away of the octogenarian leader will confound the already mounting problems hobbling Nepal’s peace process. The Nepali Congress Party, over which he kept an iron grip, will now face an internal war for succession. He made it clear that wanted his mantle to fall on his daughter, Sujata.
Varied opinions of G. P.Koirala’s career were posted this morning on BBC’s website. A few examples are listed below:
Love him or hate him, apart from all controversies, we can never deny his contribution to democratic system in Nepal. May Koirala's soul rest in peace.
Pankaj Karna, Janakpur, Currently Oklahoma USA
Despite what the western media says, most Nepalis will be celebrating the death of a man who was most responsible for the current situation in Nepal. Having said that, his death has created a power vacuum in Nepal, seeing as that the Girija-controlled Nepali Congress Party has been a deterrent against Maoist hegemony.
Rajan, Kathmandu, Nepal
Though he did not hold any national position after the fall of monarchy in Nepal, he is the head of nation since then. Though people and political analysts point out many of his weaknesses, his overall contribution towards the establishment of the real democracy in Nepal cannot be ignored.
Guru Koirala, Syangja, Nepal
People have different views about GP Koirala, mostly negative, but he was one of the strongest leaders of Nepal. After his death, there may be a huge tussle within the Nepali Congress Party, and also among other parties, over power.
BR Giri, Amsterdam
Mr Koirala was aware of Nepal's geo-political compulsions and walked a difficult path to preserve Nepal's sovereignty and distinct identity against heavy odds. Nepal has lost a brilliant son and a nationalist and a humanist at heart.
Syed Muhammad Hussain, Harrow, London
Ambassador of Bangladesh to Nepal (June 1990 to May 1995)