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Celebrating Tenth Republic Day

Issue May 2017

Celebrating Tenth Republic Day

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal turned 10 years of age on Jestha 10 (May 29). Nepalese ended the more than two-millennia old dynastic rule, and took the sovereignty in their hands in 2008. Nepalese had had to rise up against the despotic dynastic rule a number of times before ending it forever. Even today some people that had benefited from the authoritarian dynastic rule dreamed of reinstating it. The first-phase local election demonstrated that Nepalese were enthusiastic about enforcing the Constitution to insure their rights to rule and develop, as they wanted.


Republic Nepal has been growing steadily and strongly; it has already crossed the nine years, and turned 10 years of age. Soon it would grow to a teenage and then adult. Nepalese particularly the youths had shed blood again and again for setting up the republic, as the repressive rulers managed to take back the power from the people again and again.


Thus, Nepal shed the more-than-two-thousand-year old tyrannical dynastic rule that had abused the power for the benefits of a group of the people called elite. More than the two-millennia dynastic rule starting from the Licchavis that ruled Nepal from the fifth to the ninth century, and then the Mallas from the 13th to 18th century before the Shahs took over and ran the administration for over 240 years ultimately came to an end in 2008.


Licchavis and Mallas had at least developed culture and religion, and had left numerous temples, chaitais (Buddhist monuments), and other monuments of which Nepalese could be very proud of even toady. Those monuments and temples and chaitais have been standing majestically and have been the tourist attraction even today. Those cultural heritages are of the world class, the foreign and local cultural experts say.


The Shah-Rana dynastic rulers had not only not built any significant monuments that could be the identity of the Nepalese but also even stopped the common folks from doing anything good for the people religiously, culturally and economically. The 240-year dynastic rule of the Shah-Ranas had been darkest period of the Nepalese history, as the people had to live in the total destitute and in darkness, as the rulers did not permit to develop economically, culturally and socially, and did not allow common folks to educate anybody except for the royalties and those serving them.


The smart foreign advisors told the then Shah ruler (Prithvi Narayan) that managed to win the most prosperous part of Nepal that those people he had won were the smartest people, and if he could not keep them suppressed then he would have difficulty in keeping his reign. Since, then the Shah rulers and then the Rana rulers had mercilessly repressed the Nepalese.


Then, the Ranas that ran the administration so tyrannically for 104 years came down crashing under the people’s uprising in 1951. However, the roots of the dynastic rule in the name of the Shah king remained. The then political leaders thought that the Shah king would be a ceremonial and would remain as a tutelary head only.


The Shah royal family had been so poor that King Tribhuvan had no money to treat his ailment caused by over dinking and over womanizing. He sent his trust-worthy man with a crown the last Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher surrendered to Tribhuvan as the symbol of surrendering the power to the King Tribhuvan to America to sell it for the then nine million Nepalese Rupees almost nine billions in the today’s Nepalese rupees. Tribhuvan spent the money on going to Switzerland for medical treatment but the money could not save him even in the advanced hospital, and died there.


So, the Shah kings did not differed from the Rana rulers despite the popular political changes had been occurring elsewhere in the world in the post second-world-war period. The then King Mahendra took over from the overwhelmingly popularly elected government of the Nepali Congress (NC), and sent most of the top leaders to imprisonment, and cruelly killed many mid-level NC leaders for voicing against the killing of democracy and reintroducing the despotic rule on December 15, 1960.


Thereafter, almost every after 10 years, Nepalese youths and political cadres rose up against the authoritarian rule of the Shahs, and shed the blood for reinstating democracy lost to the repressive Shah rulers. Due to the poor visionary political leaders, the Shah rulers managed to stay on in power for more than another 60 years.


King Mahendra enjoyed being the absolute ruler. He introduced the no-party Panchayat system making all the politicians working in the system as his puppets in 1962. He continued the palace secretariat his father Tribhuvan set up with the assistance of the Indian civil servants. Mahendra ran the parallel administration with the government.


Mahendra renovated the palace that the Rana prime minister had built for King Tribhuvan but not better than the cowshed the Rana palace had at that time. Mahendra tried to make his residence looked like a palace but one of the foreign reporters had written that the Mahendra’s palace looked like the then East German railway station. Anyway, it had been the Nepalese power center.


King Mahendra had demonstrated that he was so poor he had to sell the palace to the State. Mahendra sold his palace at twice the price of its real value to the State pocketed the money, and he stayed on in the palace that belonged to the State. The Rana prime ministers did not differentiate the State treasury from their private property. Mahendra had been not very different from them.


After the death of Mahendra, his son: the then King Birendra accumulated huge assets in the form of land, shares in different banks and bank deposits. After the palace massacre on June 1, 2001, King Birendra, his queen and his son crown prince Dipendra died mysteriously, and then Nepal became the republic, then the government set up a special trust to locate the assets of the deceased royalties and then transfer those assets to the trust that would be used for the welfare of the common folks. The trust found thousands of hectares of land in the name of King Birendra, and thousands of shares in different banks. How Birendra transferred probably the public land in his name not known to the public, yet. The Land Reform Act set the limit any individual or company could have for any purpose but Birendra had been above the law.


The popular people’s revolution was ready to take on the Shah king and finished off the dynastic rule forever but again the political leaders wanted to tore down only the no-party Panchayat system that had been synonymous with the corruption in 1990. The roots of the dynastic rulers remained even though many youths and political cadres shed the blood for reinstating absolute democracy without the traces of the tyrannical rulers.


Obviously, the political leaders did not learn from keeping the monarchy in 1951 and then ending up suffering from it in 1960. Thereafter, the political leaders had to live absolutely in serving the monarchy or in opting the jail term or living in exile. These were the choices the then monarch offered to the politicians.


Those politicians opting to serve the monarchy became the puppets of the king if not even slaves, which were very harsh for those politicians. Those opting to go to jail for not serving the monarchy spent the most valuable and creative period of life in jail. Those politicians went in exile lived a miserable life in a foreign country simply watching the absolute rule of the king in the motherland. Those opting to serve the monarchy certainly reaped the harvest of benefits from the monarchy keeping the common folks very poor even in the 20th century.


In an open mass rally held at Tundikhel in Kathmandu after the successful uprising of the people for ending the Panchayat system in 1990, the then one of the NC leaders Girija Prasad Koirala told the audience that the ending of the Panchayat system was not only the victory of the people’s uprising for the multi-party system but also the victory of the Panchas means the supporters of the monarchy or politicians engaged in the Panchayat system. However, the mass jeered Koirala not even letting him complete the speech indicating how the people had hated the Panchas and their Panchayat system.


Obviously, Girija Prasad Koirala wanted to say that the Panchas had been free from being the puppets of the then king; so, they could be the free politicians that could set up their own political party to participate in the democratic system of governance; that was why it was the victory for the Panchas, too. Thereafter, the former Panchas set up a new political party called Rastriya Prajatantra Party


As it was natural to the democratic system of governance, every political party or political leader wanted to grab the power; everybody tried to weaken the opponent. Politically, every politician became weak. At the same time, common folks had high expectation from the democratic governance. They did not notice the fast socio-economic and political development occurring in the country rather went for the negative aspects of the governance.


After 15 years of reinstatement of democracy in the country, the then so-called King Gyanendra took over the power from the elected government in 2005, and suspended the Constitution, as his father Mahendra did in 1960. Gyanendra even dared to say that his ancestors had earned the State for him. A new despot arose from the roots of the monarchy the politicians had so generously left behind only to grow again and again.


The people’s movement in 2006 forced the then king Gyanendra to reinstate the parliament he had shrewdly dissolved. The parliament crafted an Interim Constitution of 2007, and set up a new parliament with the participation of the Maoists, and suspended the monarchy, and made the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala an officiating head of State.


Speaking at the parliament elected as a Constituent Assembly in April 2008 for proposing to uproot the monarchy forever in May 2008, again Girija Prasad Koirala: the then officiating head of State also the prime minister told the parliament that Nepalese had to shed the blood again and again to reinstate the democracy so often the monarchs killed in the past; so, he proposed to abolish the monarch so that Nepalese would not need to shed blood anymore.


The parliament overwhelmingly passed the proposal, and the monarchy was ended forever in 2008. Ending the monarchy had been so smooth in Nepal without any bloodshed unlike elsewhere in the world for the same many brave warriors had died. However, the fact had been, Nepalese had endured the 10-year people’s war; many brave warriors died because of the war; and many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire and died or became disabled; many politicians had suffered from the absolute rule of Gyanendra.


After putting an end to the monarchy, the new administration opened up the secret treasury at the old palace area called Hanumandhoka in Kathmandu. The folks opening the treasury found that two ancient boxes containing highly valuables were freshly missing from there. No monarch starting from Licchavis, then Mallas and finally the Rana-Shahs had dared to open the treasury but lastly, somebody in the last monarchial administration must have opened up and remove the two boxes.


That brings us to Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Nepal has made a tremendous progress politically, economically and socially over the last decade. However, common folks did not see it. They took every sort of political social and economic development as granted, and they anticipated high socio-economic development in a short time making them disappointed not having met the high expectation they had set.


Previously, the socio-economic development had been limited to the political speeches of the monarchs and in their words but Nepalese could never rise up from being the citizens of a least developing country despite the then King Birendra set the most ambitious goal of taking Nepal to the Asian Standard without defining what the Standard was, as everything done was limited to serving the monarchy and its henchmen.


Even today, Nepal had at least two political parties called Rastriya Prajatantra Party with different ending of the former Panchas that advocated the reinstatement of the dead monarchy, and the Hindu State. They had surely benefited from the monarchy in the past. So, they dreamed of having the same benefits if they could reinstate the monarchy.


Other individuals also dreamed of reviving the dead monarchy, as they had good time eating the leftovers of the monarchs keeping millions of common folks in hunger in the past. So, they had developed acute nostalgia for the monarchy. They posted all sorts of old pictures and videos of the past Shah monarchs on the facebook.


This was not a new phenomenon. Some people had the same thinking in 1950s when the autocratic family rule of Ranas was ended in 1951. Some diehard supporters of the Rana royals believed that the Ranas would return even after a decade of removing them from power.


The recent first-phase election held for the local units have demonstrated that voters were enthusiastic about the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. About 73 percent of the voters participated in the local election for electing their representatives to the local governance.


Following the provision made in the people’s Constitution, a significant number of women, dalits and other disadvantaged folks were elected to the decision-making positions at the local units means village councils and municipalities and metropolitan cities. They would be directly accountable to the voters, as they have to return to the voters every five years to renew the term of office.


Enforcement of the Constitution has been taking place gradually and would complete after the elections to the provincial governance and the federal parliament. President, vice president, prime minister, and Speaker were elected following the new Constitution. High courts and other courts have been set up following the provision made in the new Constitution. The first-phase local election had been already done following the Constitution. Nepal has been on the right track of the federal democratic republican setup.


May 29, 2017

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