Death of a Founding Father

I was at the funeral procession and last rites for Girija Prasad Koirala. The five-time prime minister of Nepal died on Saturday at the age of 85 after a decade of influence. He was the one to lead the successful mass street demonstrations in 2006 that forced then-King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule, and he was also the major actor in bringing Maoists into mainstream politics. But if his dream of delivering a new constitution and concluding the peace process remain unaccomplished, Koirala’s dedication was remarkable. He spent 60 years in politics, often choosing the difficult route. His father, for example, lived in exile because of Koirala’s activities against the then-autocratic rana regime.

I have reported some of Koirala’s important events, programs, press conferences and speeches in the last five years. He was in different positions then: sometimes as a acting head of the state, prime minister, and most of the time as a president of Nepali congress. One thing I can say: he was not a media-friendly person. Most of the time, he was indifferent to our attempt to get his short statement. However, he had a gifted art of story telling, he used to recall his past experiences to prove his argument artistically.

He had that strong capacity to handle the most problematic situation with confidence. His touch was the final touch, and what he said became the guidelines for all. That was how he could abolish the autocratic regime of the king and bring the Maoists in the mainstream politics. And, this is why the Nepalese government recently nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Most of Koirala’s friends have said that his death is an irreparable loss to Nepal’s peace process. That’s why the government of Nepal had given him a state honor. His daughter, deputy PM Sujata Koirala, lit the funeral pyre.

While I watched this, it seemed to me that life couldn’t be compassionate and generous to everybody and all the time. There are a few things that I did not like about him, but let me not remember at his “day of the dead.”

–Rajneesh Bhandari

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