BP Koirala’s socialism: What Nepal needs now for the dream to materialise

A portrait of BP Koirala. Photo: Courtesy anweshannews.com
A portrait of BP Koirala. Photo: Courtesy anweshannews.com

As defined by the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. To achieve that, little moments and struggles for democracy in Nepal existed from earlier periods, but the first influential democratic movement in Nepal was the historic armed revolution of 1951 led by the Nepali Congress party under the leadership of BP Koirala.

This movement not only overthrew the autocratic Rana regime, which ruled the country for 104 years but also paved a path for the general elections for the first time ever in the country. But, Koirala’s ultimate dream of establishing socialism in the country is not achieved yet.

So what Nepal needs to make it happen is still a relevant question today.  

BP Koirala’s socialist dream

Representational file: People of Nepal
Representational file: People of Nepal

Nepali Congress won the first elections held in the country in 1959, securing a two-thirds majority. BP Koirala became the first elected Prime Minister of the country. His government, however, was shortlived as King Mahendra shortly dissolved it to introduce the partyless Panchayat system.

But, outside the government or in the government, BP Koirala always had the same goal: socialism. He repeated this in his articles and interviews saying that democracy is not the final goal but is the medium for establishing socialism in the country.

He, while in government also took several revolutionary steps for this purpose. Abolishing the birta system as well as caste discrimination with the help of industrialisation, developing policies for raising the country’s economy and more were the major steps taken by the Koirala-led government for the sake of bringing socialism to the country before the military coup.

As the democracy was rooted out again, the founding leaders—BP Koirala and Subarna Shamsher—kept fighting for democracy until their last breath. They took democracy, not as the final goal but as a means for establishing socialism.

Today, after the contribution of thousands of martyrs and leaders, the country has its democracy. There is nothing to stop the development activities led by the democratic government. Still, Nepali people are not satisfied with their country’s leaders claiming themselves to become the pioneer and protectors of democracy.

Failure of BP Koirala’s socialism

File: A family living in poverty
File: A family living in poverty

Nepali Congress, the party that led all the democratic movements and that claims to follow the philosophy of democratic socialism advocated by its founder BP Koirala, has failed to deliver even while leading the government time and again.

Poverty, unemployment, and the lack of proper healthcare facilities and education are still the main issues in the country as in the past. The immense potential of development has not been utilised well. So what have they done for bringing socialism? Is democracy the final goal?

Of course not, it is just a medium for bringing socialism into the country, but the current leaders have made democracy the medium to establish their own autocratic rules. The same group of persons have been in the leading position of the party for the last few decades and still, they seem to have their unjustifiable hunger for power.

Misuse of authority, corruption, and unnatural alliances are common. We can find that the leaders who once get into power focus on gaining more power and remaining in that position for a longer period. For the sake of this purpose, they do not hesitate to commit the actions forbidden by the ground-level party cadres and the Nepali people.

What’s the solution?

File: Nepali Congress leader Bishwa Prakash Sharma
File: Nepali Congress leader Bishwa Prakash Sharma

The solution to this has been given by the current general secretary of the Nepali Congress party, Bishwa Prakash Sharma. He frequently talks about the “one, two, three, four” principle, which limits a person to become the president only once, prime minister twice, minister thrice and member of parliament for four times.

If the constitution is amended and this system is followed, we can limit the unjustifiable hunger for power in the top-level politicians and help the nation grow. Knowing that they have got limited time to remain in the position, the leaders focus on doing people-friendly activities rather than cadre-friendly activities.

This ultimately helps Nepal establish the much-awaited democratic socialism imagined by leader BP Koirala. So, the Nepali Congress party should first incorporate Sharma’s advocated principle in its party constitution and should raise its voice to amend the constitution as well.

In the upcoming elections too, the party should go to the people with the agenda of incorporating the ‘one, two, three, four’ principle in the constitution and should give a chance to the fresh leaders to lead. Otherwise, the dream of BP Koirala establishing democratic socialism may not fulfil and the party’s future too may remain at stake.

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Bhandari is a law student from Pokhara.

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