FEATURE SERVICE: Five interesting facts about Nepal’s communist founder, Puspalal

Today marks the 43rd memorial day of Puspalal Shrestha, founder of Nepal’s communist party. Born in 1924 at Bhangere of Ramechhap district, Shrestha breathed his last while undergoing treatment at Govinda Ballav Pant Hospital of New Delhi, India on 22 July 1978.

Together with four fellow comrades, Shrestha constituted the first communist party of Nepal on 10 Baisakh 2006 BS (22 April 1949) in Kolkata of India. His four comrades were Niranjan Gobinda Vaidhya, Nar Bahadur Karmacharya, Motidevi Shrestha and Narayan Bilas Joshi. Shrestha became founding General Secretary of the first-ever communist party of Nepal.

He was exiled as political activities were completely banned in Nepal under Rana regime. Once a tiny political outfit during its early days, communist bloc has evolved into one of the major political parties of Nepal. And, interest on Nepal’s communist party founder is also on the rise. Here are five fascinating facts about Nepal’s communist pioneer Shrestha.

1. Brother of Nepal’s renowned martyr Gangalal Shrestha
Puspalal was a brother of Nepal’s renowned martyr Gangalal Shrestha. Gangalal was given capital punishment for advocating liberal political system in the times of repressive Rana regime in Nepal. On 28 January 1941 (15 Magh 1997 BS), Gangalal Shrestha, who was the eldest son his his family, was killed by Rana regime. Before departing for his execution in Central Jail of Kathmandu, Gangalal spoke to his second younger brother, nicknamed ‘Mahila’. Gangalal had reportedly said, ”Mahila take the lamp that we lit for the establishment of democracy to the nooks and corners of the country to make it glow further.” This conversation is written in a book titled ‘Samakalin Itihashma Puspalal’ (which roughly translates as Puspalal in contemporary history). This volume is authored by veteran left leader of Nepal, Gobinda Gnawali. Interestingly after 11 years of capital punishment to Gangalal and other martyrs like Shukaraj Shastri, Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Dasharath Chand by Rana rulers, the regime came to an end on 18 February 1951 (7 Fagun 2007 BS).

2. Former leader of Nepali National Congress led by BP Koirala
It is interesting to note that Puspalal’s political entry had started from Nepal’s first political party named Nepal Praja Parisad that was established on 2 June 1936 (On 20 Jetha 1993 BS) under the leadership of Tanka Prashad Acharya, Nepal’s former Prime Minister. During his exile in India around 2004 BS, Puspalal Shrestha was associated with BP Koirala-led Nepali National Congress as Office Secretary in Varanasi, India. A year later, he became Secretary General of Nepali National Congress, said Dr. Surendra KC, who has written three volumes of book on the history of Nepal Communist Party.

3. First person to translate communist manifesto and other communist texts into Nepali
Puspalal is not just only the founder of Nepal Communist Party; he is also the first translator of Communist Manifesto into Nepali language. He had also translated many communist texts ranging from Soviet Union to China into Nepali language. Dr. Surendra KC said, Puspalal Shrestha started making communist party from the scratch in Nepal. ”He worked to produce content and lay foundation stone of the party organization of Nepal Communist Party from scratch”, said Dr. KC.

4. His mortal remains was restricted to bring back Nepal
Puspalal Shrestha was treated at the general ward of Govinda Ballav Pant Hospital of New Delhi, said Yuwaraj Ghimire. In his article of 2073 BS in Annapurna Post, Ghimire has written, ”Once I had been to see him. He had undergone Thoracenthesis”. Ghimire said owing to his dignity and self-respect, Puspalal Shrestha did not use his rapport to treat in any standard hospital of New Delhi like AIIMS. Ghimire was at the hospital during the time Shrestha was pronounced dead. He was studying in India at that time. After announcement of his death, Puspalal’s spouse Shahana Pradhan and Umesh Shrestha were called in to India. It is said that Puspala’s mortal remains were not permitted to bring back Nepal as Party-less Panchayat system had banned political activities and leaders. Finally, according to the article of Ghimire, Puspalal Shrestha’s dead body was cremated at Nighambodh Ghat on the banks of Yamuna River. Another leader present on the occasion was Balaram Sharma. Ghimire wrote Sharma had held water on his hands and expressed his resolution in load and clear: ”Republicanism would be the destination of our struggle in Nepal.”

Interestingly, after 11 years of Puspalal’s demise, Nepal’s king Birendra announced the restoration of multiparty democracy on 8 April 1990 (On 26 Chaitdra 2046 BS). It is coincidence that after a decade of death sentence to Gangalal Shrestha, the eldest brother of Puspalal Shrestha, democracy was established in Nepal.

5. Lost parliamentary elections to Ganeshman Singh, never held public office
Commemorating the seventh democracy day, Nepal’s first general elections were held on 18 February. The 45-day-long marathon elections concluded on 3 April. In this election Puspalal Shrestha had contested against Ganeshman Singh in Kathmandu. According a book titled Pahilo Sansad (First Parliament) written by Jagat Nepal, Puspalal lost his first election bid. Only four candidates from Nepal Communist Party stood victorious. They were Tulsilal Amatya from Lalitpur, Shekha Farman from Rautahat, Hridayalal Mahato from Rautahat and Kamalraj Regmi from Palpa.
Having lost in his and nation’s first elections, Puspalal did not have a chance to field his candidacy for another election as Nepal’s parliament and cabinet was dissolved by king Mahendra on 15 December 1960, less than two years of first elections. Tragically, the multiparty democracy was only established after 11 years of Puspalal’s demise. He did not hold any public offices also. These days, there are many monuments and infrastructures before the name of Pushpalal, including highway and college. —

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