Basantapur Square, close to Kathmandu's Durbar Square, site of the
former royal palace, now a bustling venue for souvenir sellers and other
Courtesy Harvey Follender
The Nepali Congress Party
The Nepali Congress Party, a reform-oriented centrist
has been in continuous operation since it was founded
slightly different name in 1947. Elected to office in 1959
landslide victory, the Nepali Congress Party government
liberalize society through a democratic process. The
palace coup of
1960 led to the imprisonment of the powerful Nepali
leader, B.P. Koirala, and other party stalwarts; many
sought sanctuary in exile in India.
Although political parties were prohibited from 1960 to
and continued to be outlawed during the panchayat
under the aegis of the Associations and Organizations
of 1963, the Nepali Congress Party persisted. The party
great emphasis on eliminating the feudal economy and
basis for socioeconomic development. It proposed
basic industries and instituting progressive taxes on
housing, salaries, profits, and foreign investments. While
exile, the Nepali Congress Party served as the nucleus
other opposition groups clustered and even instigated
uprisings in the Hill and Tarai regions. During this time,
Nepali Congress Party refused the overtures of a radical
the Communist Party of Nepal for a tactical alliance.
Although the Nepali Congress Party demonstrated its
endure, it was weakened over time by defection,
external pressures. Nevertheless, it continued to be the
organized party to press for democratization. In the 1980
referendum, it supported the multiparty option in
opposition to the
panchayat system. In 1981 the party boycotted the
Panchayat elections and rejected the new government. The
1982 of B.P. Koirala, who had consistently advocated
reforms and a broad-based policy of national
further weakened the party.
In the 1980s, the Nepali Congress Party abandoned its
socialistic economic program in favor of a mixed economy,
privatization, and a market economy in certain sectors.
policy orientation was to nonalignment and good relations
India. Although the party also boycotted the 1986
elections to the
Rashtriya Panchayat, its members were allowed to run in
local elections. In defiance of the ban on demonstrations,
Nepali Congress Party organized mass rallies in January
ultimately triggered the prodemocracy movement.
Following the humiliating defeat of party leader K.P.
by the communist factions in the 1991 parliamentary
Girija Prasad (G.P.) Koirala was chosen by the Nepali
Party as leader of its Parliamentary Board. As prime
formed the first elected democratic government in Nepal in
thirtytwo years. G.P. Koirala was the third of the Koirala
become prime minister. Along with his elder brother, B.P.
he was arrested in 1960 and was not released until 1967.
period of exile that began in 1971, he returned to Nepal
under a general amnesty. He was elected general secretary
party in 1976 in a convention at Patna and played a key
role in the
prodemocracy movement. G.P. Koirala was known for favoring
reconciliation with the left, but he also wanted to pursue
unity and Western-style democracy.
Data as of September 1991