Not many Left

Man Mohan Adhikari, Nepal's "democratic communist" died on 26 April 1999, after collapsing during his campaign as the prime ministerial candidate for the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist). Adhikari, like the late B.P. Koirala, prime minister of Nepal, 1959-60, had fought for Indian independence from the British and had been jailed for his efforts. Later, he stood up against his country's autocratic Panchayat monarchy with quiet self-assurance, and helped bring the communists into mainstream politics after the transition to democracy in 1990, becoming in the process the world's first elected communist primPe minister. This was in the post-Soviet Union days when the communists were already being regarded as political dinosaurs. The world may not have noticed, but Nepal and South Asia have lost a democrat and a communist.

Man Mohan Adhikari will be deeply mourned by all South Asians who value democracy and decency in public life and are committed to promoting popular sovereignty. His death is not just a blow to the Left in Nepal. It marks the departure of a whole generation of leaders in South Asia who played a crucial role in the process of decolonisation and democratisa-tion in the region over the past half century. This generation of leadership, now in its seventies and eighties, was thrust into the political mainstream by the great events of the post-War period. It combined a radical ideology of social transformation and empowerment of the underprivileged with a political practice defined by relatively modest goals of gaining independence, creating and consolidating democratic institutions and setting up political organisations.

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Himal Southasian