If we look some four decades back, the social and political systems Nepal were totally different from what they are today. Political parties were banned and everyone was in the grip of some sort of feat. Even the leaders close to the Panchayat system were not confident about their conducts because almost all decisions were taken by the Royal Palace. However, student unions and their leaders used to enjoy the freedom of expression. They were energetic, assertive and used to take central stage in politics.
Among student unions, the Rastrabadi Swatantra Bidyarthi Mandal, founded under the leadership of Padam Thakurathi, was closely connected with Panchas, hence to the Royal Palace. The youths of this group used to have excess to power centres and even jobs. They used to be operated under the protection of the then Nepal Police, generally called ‘Khaire’ and worked as vigilantes. They were the target of Nepal Student Union (NSU) and All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU).
NSU was strong from the beginning. Though there were many communist fractions, there were only two student unions affiliated to communist parties of Nepal viz. ANNFSU, 5th and 6th. ANNFSU 5th was considered as soft liner and it had almost equal strength with NSU, whereas ANNFSU 6th was regarded as hardliner. Infighting between those two factions used to be a day-to-day event. But, the tussle between ANNFSU 5th and NSU used to be occasional. However, it used to be appalling and even deadly. Especially, those two unions used to come face-to-face in the free student union elections.
I had an opportunity to see such conflicts several times at the Central Campus in Kirtipur. In one afternoon, the bus service from Kirtipur to Kathmandu was halted and even the settlement turned tense. It was reported that the fighting between the student unions was erupted. We, as inquisitive flocks, rushed to the boys’ hostel. We saw about 300 NSU students with clubs and rods in their hands. They were prepared to march to the Auditorium Hall. As we proceeded further to the Auditorium Hall, we saw hundreds of students in and around the Hall. They were seen collecting clubs, rods and stones. Amid such a chaos, they were chanting slogans.
Amidst that scenario, a man in black coat and Bhadgaule cap ascended on the stage and looked around the audience. The calm and collected man began speaking with a sweet but in low voice. “Aloud, aloud!” students cried. And he spoke, “Friends! We are here to defeat our enemies”. He stopped. Rapturous applauds and whistling started from the students about two minutes. He resumed, “We are in thousands, they are in some hundreds. We can chase them away or crush them right now …’’ As he took a pause, whistling and clippings roared the sky.
‘’But, will we win the elections just by chasing them! No friends. We have to defeat them in the forthcoming election. So, instead of chasing them out, we must start election preparations right now to pulverise them in the forthcoming election. So we must focus on our work’’, he said. The students gave a standing ovation to him and the gathering fizzled out. He averted a massacre. I understood the role of a real leader. A real leader avoids confrontations and seeks a compromise. As asked who was the speaker? Someone said he was a lawyer and student leader Subash Chandra Nembang. The late leader will always be remembered as an icon of compromise in the history Nepal.