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Sushil Koirala was a true blue party soldier

KATHMANDU: Sushil Koirala left this world in much the same way he lived his life: quietly. Only difference being it was a loud quiet in the sense that someone who had both the ears and the back of his elder cousins B P and later G P Koirala, he was the most heard man in the Congress party.

Thrown into contact with legendary B P from early on by dint of being cousins, he was the one who was later destined to lead a long political career in the role of a strategist and member of the kitchen cabinet, a term which gained notoriety whenever G P was prime minister.

That notoriety is a tribute to him who always shaped his views based on definite strategy and not on vocabulary doing the round something which made him unpopular both in media and the Congress party. He could sense danger when even no one was around far afar.

Sushil Da, as he was known in Congress circle, could disagree with almost everyone yet spoke very little and professionally speaking had vocabulary strength less than that of a grocer or so to say. He has keen sense of reading people and excellent sense of what was coming up and who should he talk to once he has identified the target.

G P was distant third behind Ganesh Man Singh and K P Bhattarai, and in that order, when Nepal saw restoration of democracy in 1989. Singh declined to head a government and passed on the offer to Bhattarai, while G P was all dressed up but had nowhere to go.

Bhattarai was acting president of the Congress party and G P its general secretary and had perhaps deep down in his mind that he should have got to lead the interim government. But there was no one who could contest Iron Man Singh then.

Given what the world saw unspooling later on, one can safely assume that Sushil Da must have started wracking his brains pulling up a strategy aimed at lodging G P in power just around that period of time. It bore fruit when Bhattarai lost the election from safest constituency in the capital in 1992.

But those who do not consider Sushil Da as a great strategist are however free to say that Bhattarai lost because his rival in the election was a Communist titan Madan Bhandari but not yet known to wider world. But it is Sushil Da who is believed to have conspired against Bhattarai to eliminate him in election so that G P could find feet finally.

With G P in hot seat, Sushil Da quietly started scanning the party separating those who owed allegiance to anyone other than G P from Baluwatar. Soon Bhattarai and Singh came to know what he was up to and raised questions over his role with G P time and again.

His activism later saw Bhattarai, a saintly politician , left to quit when the going got tough in 1999. Remember it was all the machinations coming from Sushil Da. He would not see anyone other than G P in the hot seat as a true soldier of the Koirala family.

One feels he worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with trusted sycophants around since largely because no one who was anyone from outside Koirala camp would ever drop into his room. Those who did not see him were deemed to be doomed sooner than later.

Other than Singh and Bhattarai, one more person on his radar was Sher Bahadur Deuba. Both were closer to Koirala family but Sushil Da was the true blue eyed boy. Deuba beat him by making it to the hot seat too many times but was soon shown the door out of the party when Sushil Da pushed him into playing foul.

Subsequently Deuba was expelled from the party, expect Sushil Da to be the master mind, but sooner than later merged with Congress in 2007 in what remains a mystery and something Sushil Da alone could explain.

Other than that, he was a man who worked to an agenda which becomes evident from the fact that he went on to wangle a constitution on September 22 last year in what was expected not coming forth at all given the mounting conspiracies.

He managed the impossible in the face of stiff Indian opposition and at the risk of his political career, never mind he had reached the fag end of it at 79. But he suddenly left this world knowing when he died that certain forces were trying to stop him from getting elected to the position of the Congress president.

In a country where politicians mint money and build castles shamelessly, he who had opportunity to make millions however owned only two mobile phone sets— one of them broke— as personal property and had no bank account. In what sends many into peals of laughter, he received monthly salary in cash when he was the prime minister. Rich tribute.

Every one has unfinished task at the death bed. He too had it and that was he could not pass on the Congress crown to Koirala scion, who could have been Dr Shashank Koirala, his blue eyed boy. The party he micro-managed is now on its own.

Published Date: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 | 09:41 PM

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