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Nepal: Monarchists Shut Down Capital Kathmandu

Strike in Nepal. Image by Flickr user Nepaliaashish. Used under a Creative Commons License

Strike in Nepal. Image by Flickr user Nepaliaashish. Used under a Creative Commons License

Pro monarchy groups demanding restoration of constitutional monarchy, and establishment of a Hindu state in Nepal forced its capital to shut down. The streets of Kathmandu, usually a bustling city of about a million people, wore a deserted look on Monday as businesses and schools were closed. Nepali language blog Mysansar has pictures of the city's major thoroughfare during the protest.

Called by pro-monarchy party Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and lead by former Home Minister Kamal Thapa, the protest has once again posed the question – “is there future for monarchy in Nepal?”

After nearly three hundred years of monarchy, Nepal was declared a republic following a peace agreement between the government and Maoist rebels. King Gynandra was a pretty unpopular figure when he was deposed in 2008; but the relative success of RPP called protest and the way people received the King during a recent religious festival indicates that some people are willing to give the King a second chance.

United we blog for democratic Nepal, a blog maintained by a group of journalists, reported on the religious festival:

“A lot of ex-royalists and general people out of curiosity had lined up this time on the roadside to get glimpse of the ex-monarch. Some people cheered as king passed by. There was a group of people who sang bhajan to welcome Shah. Some people screamed slogan Raja Aaau Desh Bachau “Come King and Save the Country” The same slogan chanted by staunch royalists. Gyanendra Shah tried to mingle with the people…he sometime shook his head, waived his hand and joined his palms to honor the elders, according to Kantipur. A woman who was standing by the street complained “Hajur…there is no peace in the country.” Gyanendra Shah who stayed in Panauti for one and half hour prior he returned to the capital only said, “I wish there is justice and no one faced difficulties.”

Some loyal royalists have also been doing rounds of international publications to turn the border perception on their side. Dirgha Raj Prasai-former member of parliament, writing for Sri Lanka Guardian, argues that Maoists and various political parties are destroying Nepal and only monarchy can save the country.

The debate over Nepal's status as a secular state has also been pushed to the spotlight. Prasai in his aforementioned article, calling for monarchy to be restored, injects religion into the debate; saying that a secular Republic will destroy Nepal's character as a unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Blogger Maila Baje speculates that Nepal may quietly drop off its present secular state status:

“….It was not politically correct to defend Hinduism lest it imply support for the discredited monarchy. The Maoists, the storyline went, had to be brought into the mainstream at all costs. (The rebels, for their part, had long recognized that international funding was most copious for restructuring the religious character of the state.)

Nearly four years after that simulated peace, it has become fashionable to break the silence. A republican Nepal might be better able to anchor its unique identity as a Hindu state, after all. President Ram Baran Yadav and Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal have purportedly conceded that the secularization of the state was a mistake. Granted, they made the admission during private meetings with Hindu men of robes. But that goaded Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala toward pushing the envelope. She wants a referendum on whether Nepal should return to state Hinduism.”

The relative success of RPP called protest in largely liberal progressive Kathmandu is no doubt an indication that nearly two years after the country was declared a secular Republic. There is a section of society who still are not satisfied and convinced about the change. It is up to the leaders and the public to decide how they are going to address the unsatisfied mass.

4 comments

  • No one can establish by violating agreement. All the parties including Nepali Congress, UML and Maoist should shun the path of treason and come to agreement bearing the king and in precondition that the past mistakes and illegitimacy would not be repeated. When nationality rolls down hill it is hard to contain it. It is easy to destroy but hard to create. When our norms and values end then Nepal’s existence will end. Royal Institution is the official knot that can tie Nepalese of this small nation located between two big nations. The agreement 24 April 2006 has already failed. In the presence of monarchy, political parties and nationalist forces including the army, police and court and various organs of the nation should revive the proclamation by King Gyanendra of 20, April, 2006, according to the 1990 constitution and form all party cabinet. From that a path should be searched with Everyone’s agreement to save the nation.
    Thank you.
    Dirgha Raj Prasai
    Kathmandu 32
    Nepal

  • Louis Godena

    Actually, less than 500 people actively demonstrated for the return of the monarchy. Contrast this to the nearly TWO MILLION maoist supporters who crowded Kathmandu’s streets not so long ago. There is a tiny, but vocal, contingent of royal supporters who have the ear of local reactionaries and pro-western media outlets, but to imply that they constitute some sort of threat to Nepal’s new secular realities is a gross exaggeration on your part.

  • Louis Godena

    Dirgha, the monarchy is finished. All societies, even Nepal’s must adapt to the changing dispensations of history. One may find comfort in the familiarities of tradition, but they are hardly a guide to new worlds being born in the course of events. Americans had to adapt to the end of slavery, the emancipation of child labor and the rights of suffrage extended to women. Those who successfully navigated the new capitalist order were not those lamented above all the new realities; rather, it was their opposites who eventually emerged to shape new realities that became in America’s turn new “traditions.” A new society is taking shape in Nepal, and indeed throughout South Asia. Nostaligia for a golden past will only trammel (but not halt) its triumphant march. What is true in the old Nepal will re-emerge sooner or later in the post-revolutionary era, but that era’s main features will in all likelihood bear the stamp of change that has for too long been denied to the Nepali people.

  • Dear Louis Godena !

    I extent thanks for your analysis. I support your opinion if I am not Nepali. You see the reality is another matter in Nepal. Why would there be a need of a King if Nepal can survive without it? But Nepal should not be compared to other nations. Monarch is Nepal’s alternate power. Nepal does not demand an autocratic royal institution but a pro-people institution. The institution of monarchy is such a force that fights off imperialist force to create a greater Nepal. The King of Nepal never sold the nation, pleaded before foreigners nor killed the people and will never do so. I wouldn’t have said so if I was a citizen of Japan or any other nation, I would have said that the nation will survive without the monarchy, but I am in Nepal. The geographical and class reality of Nepal is such, that the absence of monarchy would mean there will be no Nepal.
    This nation was created with joint efforts between the people and the King. Royal Institution is the backbone of Nepali nationality; it is a pillar of trust for continuing stability between China and India. The royal institution is the base pillar for the lasting creative democratic nationalism, which is pessimistic towards autocratic and imperialist management, traitors and terrorism. Nepal as a republic can pose a threat to both India and China. The royal institution is in row, because some Maoist leaders, puppets from Nepali Congress, and UML following Indian directives went against the royal institution. Nepal is a country having a rich cultural heritage. When the Maoists were in regime. The Maoist, in the name of transforming the country into ‘New Nepal’ tryed to destroy our Hindus & Buddha culture and traditions. The Maoist ministers are cutting down the budgets of such festivals. ‘The Maoist ministers had shown the same type of reluctance while marking other festivals which has been continued in the Nepali society for 1400 years. During the Indra Jatra festival, the Newar community was agitated when they were faced with the budget cut for marking the festival. The Maoist leaders are seen reluctant in preserving our own indentity.'(Puspa Pradhan) The Maoist leaders are going to undermine our culture Dashain & Tihar and the Maoist leaders and former Prime Minister Prachanda violated our traditional dress for official functions which demonstrate Nepalese identity.

    You see- The Nepalese Maoist and many Left leaders are obsessed and gripped with the idea of making Nepal a republic state. How could they establish sovereignty just by removing monarchy without any logical and rationale reasons? This would only be a ‘Herculean Attempt’ without any logic and even absurd. History is proof that the kings of Nepal have never acted against the country’s sovereignty. In Nepal opposing monarchy is as easy as it is difficult to support. But those who are true nationalists cannot speak or act by forgetting the ground reality of the country because monarchy in Nepal is related to the country’s unity and independence. If there was no monarchy in Nepal and there was no China on the north, Nepal would not have remained as an independent country. It was about 32 years ago democratic movement was gaining momentum in Sikkim. After Lendup Dorje became prime minister of Sikkim went to meet BP Koirala at Banaras to put forth a proposal to remove Chogyal (King) of Sikkim. Giving his advice BP Koirala had told Dorje that if Chogyal is removed Sikkim would lose its sovereignty and it will cease to become an independent country. BP had told Dorje to recognize and to be aware who is making them fight. But Dorje did not listen and like BP said Sikkim lost its sovereignty and became a state of India. India is facing a similar situation.
    In Afghanistan, after the Kingship was abolished in 1973, hundreds of thousand people were killed in the war and conflict between the communists supported by the then Soviet Union and the Mujaheddin supported by America. Hundreds of thousand others had to take refuge in Pakistan and Iran. Afghanistan virtually disintegrated because of war and foreign power play. After the Russia-supported Najibullah was hanged the Talibans came to power and since then Afghanistan is beleaguered by war, conflict and struggle.
    In Cambodia also, in the name of abolishing the Kingship, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot killed millions of people. Thus, the plot for republic could be a trap to finish off Nepal because even if it remains as a country, this country may become like North and South Vietnam when there is election for the president. Will America remain quiet by allowing a communist to become a president in Nepal? If there is a real possibility of the spill of streams of blood why should we think about if it will do something good for the country? Why should an innocent country like ours become the tug of war of big powers? But the country’s nationalism has reached to a point, which is virtually impossible to reverse. There are forces that are looking for this moment. Therefore, in such a critical hour, especially the Maoist must not link Nepal’s nationalism with international communist ideology and their movement.
    At this time, Girija Prasad Koirala who had to bear the brunt during the direct rule of the king had tried to prove the rationality of monarchy in Nepal and this has made him the focal point of Nepal’s political discussion. But his leadership will be recognized only if his thinking becomes his party’s ideology. Nepalese politics has become tainted by the practice of going for monarchy when one is in power and opposing it when one is out of power. The CPN-UML has put a serious stake to its political future by betting on politics for position. But to bargain for nationality with foreigners for post and money is nothing but to compare oneself with the Quislings like Jay Chand and Lendup Dorje. Therefore, the Maoists and all other parties must be able to respect the people’s wishes on a sensitive issue like monarchy and become clear about status duties and responsibilities of the head of the state. Nepal is the home of all Nepalese including the King and every one of us must be equally concerned about how this country could maintain its independent existence and identity.
    There has been a drastic rise of foreign meddling in Nepal. Indian leaders and their intelligence chiefs come here and put pressure to get rid of monarchy. Nepal’s present state is like just before the ‘infamous’ Kot parba (the mass killing of nobilities before Jung Bahadur established the Rana oligarchy) when foreigners give swords in our hands and inciting us to pull down the foundations of Nepal’s independence and sovereignty. That is why it is time for us to come to a consensus to establish the monarchy within a boundary and also the people’s representatives set a limit for themselves. There is a huge mass of people who still see the need and necessity of monarchy in Nepal.
    Therefore, going to the people with the question of whether the monarchy should be kept or removed would be would result in the Pyrrhic victory no matter which side wins and will become the starting point for disintegration of the country. Therefore, it will be absurd and tragic to raise the issue of whether Nepal should remain a monarchial country or a republic. Therefore, we, Nepalese are forced to live together in harmony and concord because of our geographical and ethnic diversity. Everyone knows that the country, which had taken the responsibility of protecting Sikkim finally gobbled it up. Those who judge the present situation of this country feel and fear the same thing. So, let’s not sink this country knowingly or unknowingly. Nepal is formed by the aggregation of many smaller states such as Bajhang, Mustang, Palpa and Tahanu. But already there are attempts of demeaning Nepal as a country. The reinstatement House of Representatives of 2063 has degraded the status of the country by working towards converting it into territories and provinces. If this is allowed to continue, no one can say that there will not attempt to change the country’s very name and the national flag. It could be that there are other forces, which are conspiring against this country by putting the Maoists at the front.
    In 1999, there was a plebiscite in Australia whether to accept the British monarchy as its head of state and majority of the Australians voted for the existing arrangement. Even in Canada, the British monarchy has been accepted as its head of state. If they can accept the Queen of Britain as their head of state, why can’t we in Nepal keep monarchy, which had the principle role in unifying this country, and modernize it. It is true that all monarchs are equally good and monarchy is an institution, which primarily functions according to its limited circle, and it is also true that bad and evil advisors are the cause of the fall of monarchy. Therefore, all those who worked to isolate the King from all political parties after February 1, 2005 and put question on the existence and national sovereignty are liable to be punished. Why didn’t’ and couldn’t they aware the king of the real situation. Similarly, all those parties, UML, NC (D), RPP and Nepal Sadvabana Party and their leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal, Surya Bahadur Thapa, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Lokendra Bahadur Chand who accepted Article 127 of the constitution of 2047 and joined in the government must also take responsibility for this situation. In politics, everyone must be evaluated on the basis of their conducts and results. The cause of the country’s downslide is because of the intellectual cons and defrauders, smugglers, corrupt and those involved in nepotism and favoritism. Until such elements are sidelined from politics and government, the country cannot find a correct path.
    Nepal is called the Shangri-La, and the World Hindu Conference had passed a resolution that the earth of Nepal was worthy to be bowed down by Hindus all over the world. This is the highest honor Nepal could receive from the international community. Nepal is the country where both Hinduism and Buddhism originated and it is a scared land for more than a billion Hindus and Buddhists. Nepal’s prestige and honor would elevate further if this country is declared a Hindu and Buddhist country, instead of a secular one. Therefore, we must not take up anything that would become too burdensome to carry on. Nepal does not have any basis or foundation that could support republic. Carrying the slogan of a republic is not the solution of our country. Nepal needs a permanent institution that can shoulder the responsibility for its independence, national unity and sovereignty. Nepal needs a credible reply and response from all other parties that they are going to abolish the monarchy for-ever.
    Please reply me once and covey to Bhumika Ghimire also.
    Thank you.
    Dirgha Raj Prasai
    Email:dirgharajprasai@gmail.com

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