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So-called Nationalists In Name Only

Issue August 2017

So-called Nationalists In Name Only

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Any person advocating political independence for a country is a nationalist by definition or the meaning given in a google dictionary. Following the meaning of the nationalist, the so-called Nepalese nationalists have been in name only. Starting from the Rana prime ministers, then the Shah kings such as Tribhuvan and Mahendra, and ending to the today’s political leaders such as KP Oli and Kamal Thapa often claiming to be nationalists did anything to remain in power but they often charged others being anti-nationalists without any sound evidences.


To be on the safe side, from Jung Bahadur Kunwar: the founder of the dynastic Rana prime minister to the last Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shusmsher, Rana prime ministers had been for keeping the British rulers in India happy. They believed that they would not be able to continue their despotic rule in Nepal without keeping the British rulers in India happy and satisfied.


For example, Jung Bahadur Kunwar later taking up the last name as Rana went with an army to put down the Indian uprising against the British Raj in India after the British could not do it in 1857. That was a shame on Jung that had contributed to continue the British Raj for another 90 years. He did so to consolidate his grip on power in Nepal.


Then, the last prime minister of the Rana dynasty Mohan Shumsher signed off the unequal Peace and Friendship Treaty with independent India in 1950 hoping the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru would save him from falling down from power but it did not happen and the Rana dynastic family rule ended forever in 1951.


The so-called king Tribhuvan practically the puppet of the Rana prime ministers fled with his family including the grand sons except for Gyanendra to New Delhi on the aircraft Nehru had so generously provided him and his family with in 1951. He did so to save from the onslaught of the Rana prime minister when the people’s revolution taking up the momentum. He did so to save his family and him, and certainly his crown, too.


Mohan Shumsher crowned Gyanendra as the king of Nepal stating Tribhuvan abdicated his throne fleeing the country. Four-year old Gyanendra became the king for four months. Indian Prime Minister Nehru never recognized Gyanendra as the king of Nepal forcing Mohan Shumsher to come to terms with Tribhuvan. Mohan Shumsher had no choice but to accept what Nehru said. Mohan Shumsher became the last dynastic Rana Prime minister, and then the first prime minister of democratic Nepal with a constitutional monarchy, as Nehru had dictated. Leader of democratic movement BP Koirala also accept the Nehru doctrine.


Then, Tribbhuvan’s son Mahendra became the king after the untimely death of Tribhuvan in 1955. Most of his followers liked to call Mahendra a nationalist unfortunately either knowingly or unknowingly that he had let the Indian army occupy Lipu-lekh to face the Chinese army in 1962. India has not returned the Nepalese territory, yet, as its army continued to stay on in Lipu-lekh. Not only that his government had awarded the Koshi barrage and Gandaki Dam and so on to India but also several other projects that went in the interest of India in 1950s.


Mahendra also sold the palace one of the Rana prime ministers built not better than any of their cowsheds for Tribhuvan but Mahendra improved it with the State money to look like a palace but to the eyes of a foreign reporter it looked like the then Easter German Railway Station, to the State and collected the money and stayed on in the palace, and his sons continued to stay on in the same palace until the people’s revolution forced his son Gyanendra out of the palace.**


After the death of Mahendra, his son Birendra became the king but he did not do anything to correct the mistakes his predecessors had committed. Rather he enjoined the kingly life keeping the vast majority of the common folks in the dire poverty. He did not feel shame to ride on a helicopter everyday from the far western town called Birendranagar by his first name to fly to the northern part of the country every day for about two months every winter costing millions of NPR to the State treasury while millions of common folks went to bed hungry. He also amassed vast fortune registering thousand of hectors of the public land in his name, and acquiring thousands of shares in banks and so on. How Birendra got the money to buy so many shares in banks.


Now, the current self-declared nationalists such as KP Oli of CPN-UML and Kamal Thapa of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) knowingly or unknowingly the meaning of the word: nationalist, have been charging other leaders with being anti-nationalists for talking about an amendment to constitution with the neighboring country.


KP Oli had been deadly against Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba stating his efforts on amending the constitution would continue in the joint press conference held in New Delhi on August 24, 2017. Oli even said that Deuba had invited the Indian interference in the Nepalese internal affairs saying Deuba would continue engaging in the amendment to the constitution. Oli’s party had even decided to draw the attention of Deuba to his statement on the amendment to the constitution made in India. Deuba had forcefully replied to the queries of the CPN-UML leaders in the parliament upon return from his India visit.


Former Prime Minister KP Oli had obviously forgotten the game both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he played to save the faces of both the dignitaries. Oli stood as a mountain saying he would not visit India without India lifting the unofficial blockade Modi had imposed on Nepal while Modi also took a stand on not lifting the blockade without amending the Nepalese constitution ostensibly to meet the demands of the Madheshi leaders in 2015.


The then Prime Minister Oli sent his deputy Kamal Thapa with the amendment bill to Delhi for Modi to see and approve it despite the Madheshi leader such as Mahant Thakur saying, “Don’t talk to Delhi but to us.*”  Then, the government put it to a vote in the parliament, and passed it with the two-thirds majority saving the face of Narendra Modi even though the amendment to the constitution had done nothing to meet the demands of the Madheshi leaders.


Then, in view of the Nepalese people firmly standing against the sanctions, Modi in turn lifted the embargo on Nepal to save the face of KP Oli in Nepal even though Modi could not achieve the goal of meeting the demands of the Madheshi leaders that he tried to attain at the cost of sufferings of the millions of Nepalese and thousands of business people of India, as they lost the business of hundred of millions of NPR during the five-month embargo.


Thus, both Oli and Modi saved the face of each other after the face-off for the five months.


After the Indian prime minister abandoned the Madheshi leaders for improving the relations with the Nepalese prime minister, the Madheshi leaders went to Indian State Bihar begging for an assistance for continuing the movement for getting their demands for amending the constitution to suit heir needs, meet. However, the shrewd Bihari leader Laloo Prasad Yadav only exposed them on camera and did not give a fig for their demands.


Poor Madheshi leaders came back home disappointed. Their stand on the need for amending the constitution had continued as it was but they needed a way out of the deadlock they had reached and to save their political faces, as their resources for continuing the movement dried up.


Madheshi leaders had not participated in the elections and even threatened to disrupt the first-and-second-phase local elections. However, they needed money and other resource to do so. They lacked both. Consequently, they simply sat on the fence and watched both the elections.


For Madheshi leaders, it had been clear that they could hardly do anything to continue their movement. The Indian establishment wanted them to participate in the elections and follow the democratic norms and values to achieve their goals and get their demands meet. That was great. Ultimately, the Indian leaders have come to sense and gave a sensible advice to the Madheshi leaders for following the democratic way of doing the political business.


Then, the question for the Madheshi leaders was how to go with the face-saving. They came up with a brilliant idea of putting the amendment bill to a vote in the parliament no matter whether it would have two-thirds majority to pass or not. The result would be acceptable to them, and then they would participate in the third-phase local election to be held in the province number two on September 18, 2017, and certainly in the provincial and federal elections to be held later on.


Before going to India for the State visit, Prime Minister Deuba put the amendment bill to a vote in the parliament. The opposition members of the parliament voted it down. Everybody knew it would happen so but the Madheshi leaders wanted that way. While in India, Deuba simply informed the Indian leaders what had happened to the amendment bill, and he said that his efforts would continue on garnering two-thirds majority for passing the bill. It was neither the face-saving ploy nor the anti-nationalist activity.


Speaking to the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called “antar-sambad” on August 30, 2017, Minister for Information and Communication also the spokesman for the government Mohan Bahadur Basnet said that India had agreed on providing the Nepalese affected by the Koshi dam with NPR 500 millions but so many leaders of each and every major three political parties had been the prime ministers but none of them had acquired the money for the victims. Minister Basnet hinted at the question whether these guys opposing whatever Prime Minister Deuba said and did for achieving so much have the rights to criticize Deuba.


The Minister went on saying these so-called opposition leaders had been manipulating the public opinions even before the visit of Prime Minister Deuba to India and even after the visit to make Deuba look like a failure; however, they had never spoken in one voice for the national interest. They just wanted to criticize the prime minister whether they were valid or not.


Surely, if these opposition guys were nationalists as they perpetually claimed to be they would have work together with the political parties in power on the national interest before and after Prime Minister’s visit to India. However, they did not have such a common sense.


At the end of the day, these so-called self-styled nationalists were neither nationalists by definition nor so by their deeds. They needed to prove that they were nationalists by their actions not by superfluous words they often used in public.


August 30, 2017

*According to the news on on November 9, 2015

** “Narayanhity Bay-chera Khane Raja Mahendra Ke Ko Rastriyabadi? on, December 16, 2016 (2073 Poush 1, Friday),

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