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Celebrating Eleventh Republic Day

Issue May 2018

Celebrating Eleventh Republic Day

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has crossed 10 years, and has turned 11 on May 29, 2018 (Jestha 15, 2075). All peace, development and democracy loving Nepalis have celebrated this day of getting freedom from 240 years of the despotic dynastic rule that had done nothing but sucked the blood of all common folks. Today Nepalis are free to take up any business, free to move from one place to another, free to talk about anything following the laws, and free to engage in the politics and even to reach the highest possible State office such as president of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


Ten years ago, in May 2008, the newly elected constituent assembly cum legislature with the people’s mandate in its first session the first thing it did was to declare Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, and ended the 240-year old Shah monarchy, and made the then king a common folk, and gave him 15 days to vacate the palace. This has been a peaceful transition to a republic means the royalties did not need to shed any blood; however, thousands of patriotic and brave Nepalis lost their beautiful lives struggling for a republican and democratic setup.


The constituent assembly cum legislature elected a first president of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, and set the course of the republican way of governance. To establish this way of governance, the constituent assembly was to craft a new constitution, and set the way for institutionalizing the republican system. However, leaders of different political parties could not reach a common understanding even after five years extending the life of the constituent assembly for one year.


So, again in 2013, then Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai recommended the president to dissolve the constituent assembly, and make the sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal the head of a new government to hold another election for a constituent assembly in 2013.


Then Chief Justice Khem Raj Regmi became the head of the provisional government set up for holding elections to a next constituent assembly to complete the crafting of a new constitution. Despite the challenges to the administration, the provisional government successfully conducted the elections to a new constituent assembly cum legislature in 2014.


By then, one of the founding fathers of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala had already left the mundane world for the heavenly abode. So, his successor Sushil Koirala take over the rein of the administration in coalition with the then CPN-UML on the understanding that he would quit office in favor of Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli after the promulgation of the new constitution.


The then three major political parties such as NC, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist with so many agreements and disagreements ultimately reached a common understanding to promulgate a new constitution, and set September 20, 2015 to promulgate the people’s constitution. However, most of the leaders of the southern flatland were not happy with the deletion of certain provisions made in the interim constitution of 2007, which was crafted after successful people’s movement the coalition of seven political party in conjunction with the Maoists launched in November 2006.


Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi sent his envoy to Nepal calling for putting the promulgation on hold for some time obviously for meeting the demands of the southern brethren. However, Nepalese political leaders told the Indian envoy that it had been too late to postpone the promulgation of the constitution. Thus, the Indian direct interference in the Nepalese politics had been publicly known and Indian Prime Minister Modi was mad at the Nepalese political leaders, and Modi wanted to teach the Nepalese leaders a lesson for daring to disregard his envoy.


First President of Federal Democratic of Nepal Dr Ram Baran Yadav also wanted to put on hold the proclamation of the constitution, and make the southern brethren also accept it. However, the three major political parties: NC, CPN-UML, and UCPN-Maoist thought to proclaim the constitution now or would be never again. So, they put the pressure on the president to promulgate the constitution.


President Dr Yadav promulgated the constitution on September 20, 2015. By that time, Nepalis had been suffering from the massive earthquakes that hit the central Nepal and devastated the lives and properties of the Nepalis on April 25, and May 12, 2015. However, Nepalis welcomed the constitution jubilantly except for some southern leaders.


Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi was serious about teaching the Nepalese leaders a lesson. The easiest thing to do for Modi was to order his subordinates to stop all Nepal-bound goods truck and India-bound service trucks from Nepal lay over on the border between Nepal and India. Our southern brethren were happy to claim that they did stop those trucks in protest against the promulgation of the constitution. In fact they had free lunch on the Indian side of the border and came to Nepal side to shout slogans. However, the Indian officials on the border did everything to keep the trucks stranded on the border.


Prime Minister Sushil Koirala flouted the understanding reached with the coalition partner CPN-UML to quit office after the promulgation of the constitution in favor of chairman of CPN-UML to be the next prime minister. Koirala not only did continue office but also wanted to get elected for the second term. However, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist formed a new coalition and Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli became the prime minister.


Prime Minister KP Oli did not want to bow down to the demand of Modi, rather stood up to the devastating sanctions Modi imposed on Nepal. Modi had anticipated that Nepalis would rise up against the Oli government when the common folks would suffer from the short supply of fuel, medicines, and food and what not, as Nepalis heavily depended on India for a large number of consumer items. For the information of Modi, Indian doing business with Nepalis also had suffered from the dwindling of the business over five months during the sanctions.


Modi knew from the recent history that how King Tribhuvan gave in to the demand of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for setting up the Indian army posts on the northern frontiers of Nepal thus practically extending the Indian border security to the Himalaya; King Mahendra allowed India to station its army at Lipu Lekh where China, India and Nepal met aftermath of the brief Sino-Indian war in 1962.


However, Modi failed to realize that the Nepalese leaders had been standing on the strong support of the common folks, and Nepalis were not in any mood to accept the dictation of the Indian prime minister. Nepalis stand out against the Indian sanctions despite they anguished over the tremendous short supply of fuel, medicines and other daily necessities.


Ultimately, Indian Prime Minister Modi learned a lesson from the sanctions he imposed on Nepal, and went back to the diplomatic maneuver for a face-saving solution. To this end, Prime Minister KP Oli sent his Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa to New Delhi with a minor amendment to the constitution to save the heavily tainted face of Modi, who in return lifted the sanctions and invited Prime Minister Oli to visit India obviously to patch up the profoundly strained relations between Nepal and India.


Probably, this victory of Nepalis over the Modi’s encroachment on the Nepalese affairs must be the greatest political victory over the Indian aggressor after the two-year long war Nepalis fought against the British East India Company government from 1814 to 1816 and forced the company government in India to sign the famous treaty called the Treaty of Sugauli however Nepal losing some territories to the company government.


At one time of the Nepalese history, the territory of Nepal had extended from the Tiesta to the east to Gardwal and Kumaon to the west. However, Nepalis lost those territories to the aggressors from the south. Nepalis have already known that the southern neighbor has no good intention to Nepal as seen from the off and on blockade of Nepalese trucks carrying goods to the Indian port for exporting to the third countries, and never agreeing to purchase the potential hydropower power from Nepal at the reasonable price.


After the legislature proclaimed Nepal a federal democratic republic in 2008 in other words within ten years, Nepal have made marvelous socio-economic development.


Nepal has secured eight fold foreign investments during the ten years of the republican setup. Nepal had the foreign investment worth NPR 1.8 billion at the time of Nepal becoming the republic in 2008, and the foreign investment reached NPR 14.40 billion in 2018, the news in the “artha-bazaar” supplement to “gorkhapatra” stated on May 29, 2018.


Lives of Nepalis have improved drastically. Officially, Nepalis living under the poverty line have come down to 23 percent. However, certain areas like Humla, Jumla and some other remote areas where the influence of political and economic development has been slow to reach, more than 50 percent Nepalis are still living under the poverty line means they are living in the extreme poverty. Development would reach them soon as the locally elected governments would be held accountable to improve their lives. Previously, the central government had grossly neglected those remote areas for any sorts of development.


Socio-politically, Nepal has made remarkable achievement after the elections to three levels of governance. One-third of women, socially deprived folks and disabled folks were elected to the local village councils, provincial Houses of Representatives, and then the federal parliament following the constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


Nepalis have been so much empowered that they could shout at the traffic police for not properly regulating the traffic; they could bang the table of any officials that failed in the service delivery. Folks could stand out against the State illegally encroaching on their property. The private media and the social media have been so pro-people. Such things had been unimaginable during the Shah monarchical rule.


Nobody could think of doing anything like this during the Shah dynastic rule. People were so repressed that they could not open their mouth when King Mahendra simply grab the land for building the Exhibition Area now called Bhrikutimandpa, Police club across the road, offices of National Trading Limited, Nepal Food Corporation, Nepal Oil Corporation and so on to name a few without paying any compensation to the landowners in Kathmandu. Many folks lost the livelihood due to the land they lost to King Mahendra but they could not even raise their heads not to mention shouting at anybody because of the political social and economic oppression the Shah king had inflicted on.


Now, Nepalis have been the sovereigns. They have the freedom to live as humanely as possible. They have the rights to education, rights to health, and freedom of expression. They could challenge the State’s illegal actions. For example, the folks in Khokana forced the State to change the route of the fast track to save the cultural heritage and property of the common folks. Could anybody imagine happening so during the Shah dynastic rule? Certainly, not. Thanks to the republican system, common folks have been so empowered.


Congratulations to all Nepalis on this auspicious occasion of the 11th anniversary of the declaration of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


May 29, 2018

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