Warning on the wall: Rising protests in favor of monarchy
December 4, 2020 10:05 AM NPT
Nepal saw probably the largest mass demonstrations for restoration of monarchy this week in several major cities including Pokhara and Butwal. Demonstrators chanted slogans against the Federal Democratic Republican system that Nepal adopted in 2008 after the abolition of the 240-year old institution of monarchy. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party has been at the frontline of such protests in Nepal since the institution of monarchy was abolished by the first Constituent Assembly in 2008. But the situation this time is rather different. Unlike in the past where only a couple of pro-monarchy forces took part, this time around some youths have jumped on the bandwagon chanting slogans in favor of Nepal’s former king and the Hindu monarchy. Pro-republican parties like Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have tended to dismiss such agitation as being ‘sponsored’ or as a temporary bubble. But this clearly is a big misreading of the writings on the wall.
The fact of the matter is that there is a growing resurgence of protests in favor of monarchy because the general people, including the huge section of the youth, have been greatly disillusioned with the way the pro-republican parties are conducting themselves and they have a deep resentment against the tendency of the political parties to remain engaged in perennial inter-party and intra-party feud and the race for securing the state power and benefits for themselves alone. As things stand, public frustration against the modus operandi of KP Sharma Oli’s government is reaching a boiling point and this has started to spill over on the streets in the form of restoration protests. Lack of accountability, tendency of protecting and even rewarding the proven corrupt and the flagrant wont for luxury at the cost of taxpayers’ money has helped build the perception that the current dispensation is much worse than any of the regimes during the monarchy. It is this deep sense of frustration and alienation which is driving the people to stand in favor of monarchy.
The reason public sympathy is steadily building up in favor of restoration and Hindu state is not because monarchy is a more popular system as such. Why this is happening is as clear as the daylight. Post-2008, successive governments, including the occupants of the office of president, have failed to conduct and deliver as per the aspirations of common people. The ills which plagued the country before 2008 still manifest on multiple fronts. Nepal still stands as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, with the system failing to book the corrupt and the people feeling the stark absence of the government in service delivery and good governance.
Nepali people stood against the monarchy in 2007 and finally consigned it to history. That a large section of Nepali people are today demanding its restoration 13 years later is the indication of how the political parties are failing to govern the country and to institutionalize the federal democratic republic system as per the spirit of the constitution. Top leaders tend to warn the former king Gyanendra whenever he makes political statements but they do not seem to have realized how unpopular they have become in the eyes of the people. Monarchy, in whatever form, is no substitute to the hard earned republic. But if the political parties continue with business as usual the tide might turn in favor of monarchy. Pro-republican forces in general, and ruling NCP in particular, have a lot to reflect on, realize and establish themselves as the best defense of the people and the country before it is too late. There is a lot to read between the lines of the rising tide of protests in favor of monarchy.