Spectres of monarchyWe might loathe the current regime, but we can't let the country slide back on the regressive path.
When the country was fighting tooth and nail against king Gyanendra’s direct rule, KP Oli, then a senior leader of the erstwhile Communist Party of Nepal (UML) had said that abolishing the monarchy was as far-fetched a dream as attempting to reach America in a bullock cart. But it did not take long for Nepal to adopt republicanism. When the movement for the structuring of Nepal into a federal republic was gaining momentum, Oli was again a naysayer. Oli’s ideas proved to be against the tide once again, and the country adopted federalism.
It’s strange, the game of thrones that is politics. Today, Oli is the prime minister of the country, endowed with the responsibility of strengthening federalism and safeguarding the democratic rights of the people that had long been curtailed by the monarchy, among others. And it seems that Oli, who has never really overcome his antagonism with federalism, has found his ideological allies in the apologists of the monarchy. Several rallies that seem to be supported by various little-known royalist and pro-Hindu organisations hit the streets in various parts of the country, including Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj, Mahendranagar, Bardia, Birgunj, Janakpur, Nawalpur, Pokhara, Rautahat and Biratnagar.
And on Monday, the pro-royalist and pro-Hindu forces marched on Kathmandu’s streets. Their demands include scrapping the federal system and making way for the return of the monarchy. It is by doing this, they say, that the country can be saved. Although a few motorcycle rallies may not bring the monarchy back, people’s nostalgia for it is nevertheless possibly exacerbating thanks to the inefficacy of almost all governments that followed its abolition. The recent rallies, thus, should be taken as a manifestation of the general public’s frustration against the government of the day, and the endless bickering in the ruling party that has held the country hostage.
In a democracy, every citizen has the right to raise their voice peacefully; every citizen’s voice deserves to be heard. In that sense, each peaceful demand of citizens, notwithstanding their numbers, is legitimate. They might sound archaic as we have moved far ahead towards a democratic polity in the past decade and a half. But they are right in expressing their voices against the political mess created by democratic leaders all these years as the country gets riddled with rampant corruption, in-fighting within the ruling party, unemployment, curbing of free speech, and a weak opposition, among others.
Make no mistake, we packed king Gyanendra off to the hills of Nagarjun in 2008 because of the monarchy’s inherent problems that were antagonistic to the idea of a democratic polity. It is due to this that today, barring a small section of apologists, people have no serious nostalgia for the monarchy to want to bring it back from the dead. But they will have no nostalgia for today’s political leaders either if they continue to dupe them all the time. It is high time the leaders realised this.