BP's thoughts still relevant
A seminar-cum-national conference of BP
Thought Academy (BPTA)
05 May 2016, Kathmandu
Prepared by Ritu Raj Subedi
With the fierce rise of corporate-led globalisation, capitalism
underwent a sea change. Backed by the cutting edge technology,
it drastically altered operating style but succeeded to retain
its core exploitive nature. The demise of communism gave it further
latitude to operate in any part of world where labour, capital
and technology are at its disposal. Liberalisation, market economy,
privatisation and deregulation gained ground under the rubric
of capitalism. Liberal democracy become its political ideology
while mass consumerism, driven by media and Internet- boosted
instinct, has kept it floating. Nonetheless, it has not become
immune to the cyclic crises manifested in the Great Depression,
recessions and financial crises. Because of its inhuman and unpredictable
character, it continues to threaten human society even though
it has shaken off its early ugly and crude forms. In the new century,
social democracy has stood as strong deterrent to the pernicious
ills of capitalism. It has the ability to expose the false consciousness
capitalism creates in the modern society.
In Nepalese context, BP Koirala is credited to have espoused
democratic socialism that is another appellation for social
democracy. Like in Europe, many communist parties have also
transformed themselves into social democratic party in Nepal
though they have refused to shed their original nametag. The
parties ranging from ultra right to ultra left to regional to
ethnic claim they fight for the cause of socialism but its true
praxis remains a far cry. BP Koirala offered only a thumbnail
of his theory. As a result, his party- Nepali Congress and its
leaders- were lost in the fog when it came to interpreting and
practicing democratic socialism. The party has effectively become
a market fundamentalist following its ascendency to power in
1990. It blindly pursued the policy of liberalisation and privatisation
under the strict guidance of World Bank, Washington Consensus
and other global organisations committed to promote capitalism
worldwide. But, there is no dearth of people close to the NC,
who are still following the principle of BP Koirala to build
a moderate socialist state that ensures both political and economic
freedom to the people. These loyalists have organised themselves
under the banner of BP Thought Academy that continues to hold
the flag of democratic socialism and carry out the activities
to spread BP thoughts to the nook and cranny of the nation.
In a bid to breadth a fresh air into slackening socialist movement,
the BP Thought Academy organised a seminar-cum-conference (2nd)
in the capital on May 5. There key speakers viewed that BP's
vision of democratic socialism still stands up as the nation
practically entered into the federal, republican and secular
era. "The nation has come to a pretty pass because the
parties neglected BP's thoughts," they said in unison.
Supported by the FES Office Nepal, the conference had the theme
of prosperous, self-reliant and strong nation. Nepali Congress
president and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN-UML
leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader
Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, FES Nepal office head Dev Raj Dahal
and BP Thought Academy Haribol Bhattarai delivered their speeches
at the opening meeting followed by series of discussion sessions.
Sher Bahadur Deuba, Nepali Congress president and former
- No matter how much one appreciates BP Koirala's contribution
and sacrifices, it will be less. He has been the source of
inspiration for our party. BP's thoughts will continue to
guide it in the years to come.
- BP was a towering and inspirational figure in the Nepalese
BP had stressed the development of villages, which also laid
the foundation of development of the nation as a whole.
Madhav Kumar Nepal, CPN-UML leader and former Prime Minister
- BP, a towering figure of Nepalese politics, should not
be limited to any party. BP and Pushpalal are two unforgettable
personalities, whose ideas spurred democratic movements in
- Recognising each other's existence and mutual tolerance
is the essence of reconciliation. BP's principle of nationalism,
democracy and socialism is relevant at present and in future
too. Nationalism is the sum of territory, people and their
loyalty to the nation. We must not be bogged down in the ethnic/regional
- Traditional/orthodox capitalism and communism fell on the
stony ground and therefore socialism should be based on the
ground reality. We have made constitutional feat with the
promulgation of the new statute that guarantees shelter, food,
education, health and job to the citizens.
- Socialism cannot be realized through rhetoric and verbose.
It requires true commitment and action. Curbing corruption
and mafia is a must. Politicisation of every sector has reached
epidemic proportions. We have to promote meritocracy.
- The new statute has envisioned a 3-pillar economy consisting
of private sector, government and cooperatives. Nation's immense
hydropower potentiality can be harnessed through cooperatives.
Since cooperative model succeeded in Israel, Japan and Germany,
there is no reason it can't be applied here.
Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader
- Democracy without development is meaningless. Sadly, development
agenda is not receiving priority.
- If we fail to stand united, the foreign meddling goes on.
BP Koirala used to say that the political parties with national
character should ally with the king to save the nation. We
must refrain ourselves from indulging in the leg-pulling practice
and strive for stability.
- Currently five types of socialisms exist in the world: A.
Traditional/classical/orthodox Marxist system based on the
state-centric and one-party rule. B. The state-driven/market
oriented one-party system. C. Nehru-styled socialism in which
the state controls private sector with multiparty democracy.
D. A collaborative socialism based on the alliance between
the state and capitalism under the multiparty democracy. E.
Loot-cracy based on divide and share of power, pelf and post
that is what is foisted upon us at the moment.
- BP stressed social and economic justice with the due participation
of peasants in the national structures. There has not been
management of land since king Mahendra launched land reforms
some 50 years ago. The nation did not see the economic take-off
as we failed to embrace BP's thoughts.
Sitadevi Yadav, NC treasurer
BP spent his childhood at Chandrajung Bazaar of Siraha and
the locals have fond memories of him. This is a reason why the
most of the people in the district cast their ballots in the
support of multiparty system in the national referendum. The
present government has shown indifference to the Terai/Madhes
Haribol Bhattarai, BP Thought Academy president
The nation came to a pretty pass with the neglect of BP thought.
The new statute is good and can meet the aspirations of the
people. Nationalism can be ensured only with independence. We
need discipline, not anarchy. National prosperity and social
justice form the basis of socialism. This requires clear vision,
skilled management and a feeling of patriotism. Ethnic and regional
issues have disturbed social harmony. Nepal ranks high in happiness
The gist of Dev Raj Dahal's speech
- The constitution, without enforcing authority of the state,
is but a mere document, and of no strength to secure citizen's
life, liberty and property. Different understanding of the
constitution, however, makes a loss of its partial legitimacy
and ability of state to enforce public order.
- Enlightenment about the ideals of constitution and the engagement
of Nepali political parties, media and civil society enable
them to wilfully determine principles of politics, law and
development policies, exercise democratic choice and take
social responsibility for their action. This helps them emancipate
from the self-tutelage fostered by wrong socialisation process
divorced from constitutional patriotism, ethical debate and
- So long as leaders are driven by universal ideologies of
neo-liberalism, liberalism and communism, they will continue
to contest national heritage, history and culture, spawning
a gap with the citizens who are historically embedded in national
life and governed by public reason derived from the sanity
of public and national interest, tradition and faith.
- Irreconcilable demands of various political forces have
reduced Nepali politics to impotence, making it unable to
address the people's grievances. The conduct of politics as
the basis of public interests can renew its validity and reconstruct
its utility for citizens. Democratic politics delinks politics
from violence and links it with legitimate compromise of interests,
ideology and identity through peaceful negotiation and shared
sacrifices for common good.
- Supremacy of constitutionalism puts a brake on several tendencies:
perpetual redistributive struggle of wretched, tyranny of
strong, winner-takes-all spiral through shifting numerical
game of coalition politics and arbitrary action of the government.
Constitutional politics marks departure from pre-modern politics
of privilege and post-modern politics of stoking centrifugal
tendencies to deconstruct the national centre for the retribalisation
of society and re-feudalisation of the public sphere. Addressing
grievances of the marginalised, constitutionalisation of actors
and institutions, smooth communication and cooperative action,
democratic culture and effective service delivery are necessary.
- Nationalism promotes national thought and converts the small
identities into a national vision. Political leaders must
have to create a common ground with each other and politically
significant groups of society in the implementation of constitution.
This fosters a viable path of democracy, justice, reconciliation
and social peace.
Pushpa Parajuli, vice-chair BP Thought Academy
Corrupt and decadent people have been awarded by the party
leadership. BP had warned that bhuiphutta barga (rootless class)
captures the party after it reaches power. And true democrats
have to wage another battle to save democracy. Now we are facing
this situation. Democracy should be for poor and needy, not
for the handful of cunning lots.
Bijula Barma, a delegate from Sindhuli
This is a time to swing into action, not merely making heaps
of commitments. The nation may plunge into whirlwind of crisis
if the leaders fail to demonstrate wisdom and discretion. Nationalism
is under threat.
Narayan Prasad Koirala
The nation has subverted to the current plight because of the
neglect of BP's thoughts. The leaders' character reflects the
Suraj Raj Kafle
The state ignored our campaign that has spread to all 75 districts.
Delegates from around attended the conference here to give
direction to the Academy.
Deuba honours Das
Senior vice-chair of the Academy Sudista Lal Das was honoured
for his contribution to the spread of BP thoughts through his
relentless engagement in the Academy-led activities. NC president
and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba honoured him by
presenting an appreciation letter. Das is the founding member
of the Academy and served it in his capacity of secretary and
vice-chair at different periods.
Academy general secretary Pradeep Koirala and treasurer Trilochan
Poudel presented their reports at the conference. In their reports,
they underscored the need for propagating the ideas and philosophy
of BP Koirala. Poudel said that BP's thoughts have gained currency
in the present context and it has become necessary to bring
the historic documents and principles of iconic figure to the
public. Academy general secretary Devendra Poudel said that
around 300 delegates attended the three-day conference that
deliberated on development discourse, the inner contents of
statute and BP's policies.
Senior journalist Yuva Raj Gautam and political analyst Arun
Subedi presented their working papers. Gautam's paper 'Nationality,
democracy and BP Koirala's thoughts' and Subedi's 'BP Thought
and present context' were discussed among the representatives
heatedly and vigorously. Dr Tika Pokharel, Suraj Kafle and Binod
Bhattarai commented Gautam's paper.
The gist of Gautam's paper
- Socialist philosophy stresses on a political roadmap guided
by economic and social interventions. As per the concept of
welfare state, democracy is a vehicle to smoothly reach socialism
from capitalism. It provides equal opportunity to the farmers
and workers by liberating them from the vicious cycle of poverty,
inequality, suppressions and oppression.
- The NC that led the 1951 democratic revolution had played
a vital role in disseminating the values of democracy, nationality
and socialism. During its short tenure in office in early
60s, the NC-led government took drastic measures to abolish
feudalism but it forgot all its socialist pledges following
the 1990 change. The NC-led government sold off around 25
industries set up by the friendly nations at throwaway prices,
forcing thousands of Nepalese out of jobs and the nation to
be dependent on India.
- Following the 2006 April movement, the NC stepped into the
shoes of ultra-left and accepted federalism, republican set-up
and secularism. It has now lost its identity. Now foreign
powers are hell-bent on destroying Nepali culture, religions
and traditions by using all political parties as their stooge.
- Grishma Bahadur Devkota, in his 'Nepalko political darpan'
writes: "Pundit Jawarlal Nehru was jealous of BP Koirala
as the latter was vice-chair of Socialist International. So,
he drove a wedge between them to dilute the power of junior
- BP Koirala and king Birendra had identical views on constitutional
monarchy and parliamentary democracy. BP stood in favour of
monarchy to protect nationality. So they respected each other.
In his fierce debate with Sikkim's Kazi Lendup Dorje, BP had
warned that Sikkim would lose its existence if king was thrown
out of power. "We are fighting against monarchy for democracy
but monarchy and the NC should join hands to save the nation,"
BP told Dorje.
- International conspiracies are in full swing in the Nepalese
politics today. If this situation persists, Nepal's independence
and nationality will further suffer a setback. Therefore,
the political parties should give up their petty interests
to bolster the national unity. If the NC moves ahead by embracing
BP's thoughts, this will not only save the party but also
national independence, unity and integrity. Dr Tika Pokharel
- There should not be any dilemma about the relevance of BP
thoughts though two successive generations failed to translate
them into practice. Rule of law, which is the key to the functional
democracy, could not be fully maintained.
- Socialism means lifting the economic status of people. Nationality
is a feeling that comes from the deep of heart. The state
has to promote self-employment to stop them from going abroad
for job. Suraj Kafle
- There has been review of oodles of literature on BP thoughts
and principles. Now it is time to lay out programmes to implement
them. BP's democratic socialism, which was propounded in the
political and economic environ of 1960s, needs to be reinterpreted
as per the present context.
- With the privatisation of national economy of Britain by
the government of Margret Thatcher in 1983, and the 1989 Washington
Consensus, the third nations were forced to follow liberalisation
policy to get foreign aid that came with conditions attached.
- Foreigners began to butt in the internal affairs of the
country in 2006, riding the issue of inclusion. Today the
society has been socially, culturally and linguistically cleaved.
Gautam's paper is biased against the NC and only highlights
the role of king. Is it not the duty of king to protect nationality?
BP had not always defended the kingship. Once he said: "If
the king does not give rights to the people, the latter also
do not give a hoot about the monarchy."
Pradeep Koirala said that BP Koirala returned home in 2033
BS with a view to reconcile with the king as nationality was
under threat. Those, who backed the royal takeover in 2017 BS,
had called BP traitor. Tej Raj Dhakal said that economic freedom
in necessary in democracy. King Mahendra's move weakened both
democracy and nationality. Industrial development is a must
to benefit the working class.
Gist of Arun Subedi's paper
With the promulgation of the 1990 constitution, the NC had
reached its political destination but failed to institutionalise
the political gains enshrined in the national charter through
the implementation of proper socio-economic and foreign policies.
As a result, it created a breeding ground for rebellion. The
NC compromised with the rebel forces, forgetting its own principle
and identity. Today, the NC no longer remains as NC in terms
of ideology and ideals. Following its recent convention, it
has shown some signs to atone for its deviation and take self-correcting
What it should do?
- It needs to review its past political decisions and take
initiatives to amend the statute based on its theoretical
a. Federalism - Federalism was raised on the basis
of identity. So, the NC has to either accept identity or
b. Form of governance - It is a wrong to conclude
that parliamentary system became a failure in Nepal. Rather,
it is the model of co-work between communist and monarchy
that became unsuccessful. There is no need for the search
of an alternative to the parliamentary democratic system.
c. Republican set-up- The NC should be ready for
the restoration of monarchy if the ex-king makes self-criticism
for his past deeds and beseeches the people, political parties
and international community for the recognition of its limited
d. Secularism- Secularism has destroyed the basis
of national unity so the urgent step has to be taken to
declare Nepal a Hindu kingdom.
- Review of economic and social policies:
A. The government has to take the responsibility of social
sector while the private sector should run industries and
B. The government should sit for collateral of loans for
the projects run with state coffers or under the banks'
C. The monetary and trade policies need a radical overhaul.
D. Stress should be laid on the increase of productivity
of land instead of its plotting. The ceiling on the productive
land should be lifted. There should be ceiling in the ownership
of unproductive land. Duel ownership of land by the government
and private sector should be abolished.
3 Foreign policy: The foreign policy adopted by the
NC as well as BP came a cropper. A two-layer foreign policy
is needed. At first layer comes India and China followed
the remaining nations.
4 Water resources- The government has to take initiatives
for co-work with India for the coordination between its
river-link project and World's Bank Ganges Valley strategic
Relevance of BP thought in development model
BP's 'small is beautiful' model has limited scope in the present
context with the intense development of capital. There has been
a sea change in the sources of production and nature of capital
since then. The NC is confused about establishing the relevance
of BP's thought. This resulted in the rapid privatisation of
social sector and discouragement of public sector.
The three-day conference adopted a 9-point declaration. Some
important points are as follows:
1. The state has to embrace the socialist thoughts of BP Koirala.
2. To hold the local elections at the earliest.
3. To settle the contested issues of the constitution through
4. All should be engaged in maintaining communal harmony.
5. To start constructive campaign against corruption.
6. To establish cordial ties with India and China by taking
them into confidence.
7. To amend the constitution to resolve the Terai-Madhes problem
8. To provide safe residences to the quake victims within this