Rastriya Prajatantra Party leaders swear by Gita to stay unitedFrustrated by frequent splits and mergers, followers demand assurances history won’t repeat.
For Nepal’s royalist forces shouldering the agenda of Hindu state, keeping their houses in order has been a tall order.
Over two and a half years after their split, the Kamal Thapa-led Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Sanyukta), led jointly by Pashupati Shumsher Rana and Prakash Chandra Lohani, have once again decided to combine forces.
They announced their merger on Wednesday. The new party has been named Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and the three (Thapa, Rana and Lohani) will lead the party as chairpersons until the general convention chooses a new leadership. The new party’s agenda remains the same: the restoration of monarchy and the Hindu state.
But Wednesday’s event organised to announce the merger didn’t pass without some drama. Frustrated at seeing their leaders come together and part ways time and again, party members appeared unconvinced; they demanded assurances.
The leaders, who have been demanding that Nepal be declared a Hindu state, were quick to take a vow with a copy of the Bhagawad Gita, the holy book of the Hindus, in their hand.
“You (leaders) have betrayed us several times in the past. We want an assurance that you will not do it again,” said Nawaraj Simkhada, Kathmandu district chief of the party. “You must make a vow by touching the Gita that you will remain united.”
Thapa then held the holy scripture in his hand and promised to live up to the expectations of the cadres and well-wishers.
“I swear by taking the Gita in my hand that the party will stand united,” said Thapa.
Rana and Lohani then followed suit.
With just one seat in Parliament, the party shares the fifth position in the House with Rastriya Janamorcha and Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party.
This is, however, not the first time these forces have announced unification.
The Thapa-led RPP-Nepal and Rana-led RPP entered into a merger on November 21, 2016, and named the party Rastriya Prajatantra Party. But They could hardly remain together for six months and parted ways in August the next year.
Rana left the party claiming that Thapa was running the party “in an autocratic way”. In March 2017, Lohani quit Thapa levelling similar charges against Thapa.
Many senior party leaders, including Padma Sundar Lawati and Kesar Bahadur Bista, too, deserted Thapa, accusing him of monopolising the party.
Rajendra Lingden, the only elected lawmaker of the party, said it was the personal ego of leaders that had led to splits in the past. “The people are closely watching our leadership,” he said. “They will not give us another chance.”
Thapa, Rana and Lohani, in November 2018, had again announced a merger to form a single party. The unification, scheduled for November 23 that year, couldn’t materialise.