KATHMANDU, Feb 18: After receiving pressure from various forefronts of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) on his new satirical song ‘Lutna sake lut’, popular folk singer Pashupati Sharma removed the song from YouTube on Saturday. Claiming that such ‘unethical’ action of the government is a serious act of undermining freedom of expression, the general public has taken to various platforms to vent their ire against the government move.
At 5 pm on Sunday, the civil society, on the call of the Bibeksheel Nepali Party (BNP), took to the streets across the nation to express their dissatisfaction over the issue claiming that such act of the government is an attack on democracy.
The protestors staged a nationwide dance campaign where they danced to the song. In the demonstration, the protestors compared the NCP led government to the Panchayat rule claiming that even the Panchayat government would not have taken such action. The BNP had earlier issued a press statement and defended the right to free speech as the beauty of democracy.
Leaders from the BNP have expressed that it was unethical of the government to exert pressure on the singer to take down the song from Youtube. “Even in the Panchayat rule, such satire was entertained,” BNP leader Milan Pandey told Republica, “This two-thirds majority government, through this act, has shown that it is indeed the weakest government Nepal has ever seen.”
Earlier on Saturday, Youth Federation Nepal (YFN), the youth wing of the ruling NCP, condemned the song claiming that it had made use of inappropriate comparisons including the ones where political leaders are compared with Yamaraj, (the god of death), and the polical cadres with dogs. The YFN on its Facebook page expressed dissatisfaction against the song and asked Sharma to “correct his mistakes” or face consequences that could “affect his career.” However, leaders from the YFN have dismissed the claim that the views expressed on the association’s page are the official views of the youth wing.
The general public has also taken to various social media to express their frustration over the government’s move to pressurize the artist to remove the song from Youtube. They expressed solidarity with the song and said that it depicted the current situation of the country correctly.
Raising the issue of the intervention of the sister wing of the ruling party in the issue, medical student Lochan Acharya wrote on Twitter, “The intolerance of ruling party CPN is vividly seen with its youth wing circulating the message to discard Pashupati Sharma (for uploading song that CPN doesn’t like for no reason). What else can be more shameful than this in an open & democratic society?”
Similarly, former secretary Bhim Upadhyay claimed that every last word of the song is true in the Nepali context. He wrote on Twitter, “The lyrics of the song is 100 percent true. It is up to the person if they can digest the truth.”