Singh remembers an evening with Subarna Shumsher:
Driving in quiet silence from Narayanhiti Durbar to Lalita Niwas, the residence of Subarna Shumsher, Singh remembers several memories spent with him – of which one is etched in his memory.
“It was the day before I left for Kathmandu for the Indra Jatra bombing plot. He had invited me for dinner”, Singh tells Mathbar Singh.
In a very solemn voice, Subarna Ji had said to Singh:
“Ganesh Man Ji, you are leaving for Kathmandu tomorrow. I don’t know if we will get to meet again. The charges laid by the Rana government on you are grave. In addition, you are undertaking a very dangerous mission – should you be arrested, they are not going to spare you. It wasn’t mine or Koirala Ji’s (B P Koirala) wish to send you, but we could not go against your wishes to head this mission. You are leaving tomorrow; therefore I invited you for dinner to bestow my respect”.
The next time Singh met Subarna Shumsher was at Tribhuvan International Airport, when leaders had returned home.
“Subarna Shumsher wasn’t a revolutionary by birth, he was made to become one”, Singh reflects further. “Subarna Shumsher was the grandson of Rana Prime Minister Bhim Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, and the son of General Hiranya Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana. However, because Hiranya’s mother was from a different caste, their family was not only excluded from the Prime Ministerial roll of succession, but was also subjected to other discrimination within their official careers. First they were excluded from the roll of succession by Chandra Shumsher. When Hiranya’s father Bhim Shumsher became PM, Hiranya was included back in the roll-of-succession, only to be ousted again by Juddha Shumsher. Hiranya’s family was sent to Dhankuta, then to Birgunj, from where they eventually went to Calcutta”.
“Through their own personal experiences Hiranya Shumsher and son Subarna Shumsher realized that democracy was the only way Nepal would become a progressive state”, Singh shared his views about Subarna Shumsher with Mathbar Singh.
An informal meet at Lalita Niwas:
Lost in his thoughts, Singh arrives at Lalita Niwas in his ministerial vehicle. General Hiranya Shumsher was at the gate welcoming the arriving guests. Behind Subarna Shumsher was Subarna Shumsher’s wife Shweta Prabha Rajya Lakshmi, greeting the arriving guests too.
“It seemed like democracy had arrived not only in Nepal, but at Lalita Niwas too”, Singh joked with Mathbar Singh. “We had been to Subarna Shumsher’s house many times, but never had Rani Shweta made a public appearance in front of the guests. Today, she was welcoming guests alongside her father-in-law. Democracy indeed”, he added.
Inside Lalita Niwas, all leaders affiliated with Nepali Congress were present with the exception of Matrika Prasad Koirala. The reason for Matrika’s absence was because the evening’s meet was an informal meeting. Had Matrika, then Chairman of Nepali Congress been present, the meeting would become an official event.
According to Singh, the leaders had decided to meet to informally discuss the way forward.
“We had successfully brought in democracy to Nepal, but how were we to sustain it? That was the major question”, Singh shared. “We had no prior experience of leading a country, and the roles, responsibilities of each minister were to be considered”, he added.
“The future demanded not only a ‘to do spirit’ (josh), but an equally great vision with well planned strategies (hosh)”.
Amidst the meet, the topic of a venue for the interim ministry also arose – everyone was of the view that the place should be Singha Durbar, the official residence of then Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher. Attending leaders agreed that this topic should be raised with the Prime Minister.
The meeting, being of an informal nature, had no agenda. Therefore, after conducting general discussions, the congregation started to disperse.
Badakazi Ratna Man’s advice to Singh:
Singh too decided to leave. He bid farewell to B P Koirala (house guest of Subarna Shumsher) and to Subarna Shumsher and got on his vehicle.
Outside, darkness was settling in. Singh noticed many homes lit up as if it was Tihar.
“People were celebrating the advent of democracy”, Singh thought to himself as the car made its way towards his home.
Recalling the day’s events, Singh shares with Mathbar Singh:
“When greeting King Tribhuvan, I hadn’t bowed my head or my body in front of him, but had simply greeted him with folded hands (Namaste). Badakazi Ratna Man, who was present in the ceremony, had not liked my gesture.”
Although, Badakazi Ratna Man did not raise the topic then, he shared this with Singh later:
“You have now become a respected person- someone who has contributed towards Nepal’s democratic fight, and a minister in Nepal’s government. Keeping in mind your commitment and responsibilities, it is equally important to learn politeness and observe humility. These traits do not make you a smaller person; in fact it highlights your greatness. You too should start practicing these values”.
“At the time, I did not pay much attention to his words. In fact I politely laughed it off. However, his words were to serve as a great lesson to me in my future years”.
“His entire life Badakazi Ratna Man was polite and respectful. Today, he is remembered as a great figure”.
“Talk about leading by example”, Singh concludes.