The man who sowed the seed of republican Nepal, albeit through violent means, is no more. Ram Raja Prasad Singh, the person who started the revolt against Nepal’s feudal monarchy, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 77. While Singh’s demise has saddened those who have fought for the establishment of republic by overthrowing monarchy, a section of the society has raised questions over Singh’s hand 1985 bombings in Kathmandu that killed eight innocent people.
Though we are certainly not in favor of violence to achieve political goals, the late revolutionary leader’s contribution to the cause of republican Nepal cannot be overlooked either. One cannot deny that Singh influenced a large number of people who followed on his footsteps to fight against the feudal, autocratic system. Following the decade-long armed struggle by the Maoists and continued efforts of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, Nepal today stands in the comity of nations as the newest republic. Millions fought against the system that was not theirs and proved that they can decide their own future.
Following the 12-point understanding between the Maoists and the then Seven-Party Alliance in November 25, 2005, people’s movement took to a decisive turn in April 2006 forcing the then King Gyanendra to reinstate the dissolved parliament. After being postponed several times, the parties finally managed to hold the election of the Constituent Assembly in April 2008. The CA, during its very first meeting, voted overwhelmingly to abolish the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy, declared Nepal a federal democratic republic and elected Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first president.
The events that unfolded after this, however, were not satisfactory. The conflict that began after the president’s refusal to sack the then army chief on the recommendation of prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal led to a chain of events which threatened the achievements of the people’s movement. People’s hope was dashed, as their dream of a new constitution never materialized. Instead of cashing in on the people’s mandate and fulfilling their aspirations, the parties and their leaders busied themselves in power struggle, putting their petty interests above the national interests. Even as the nation saw four prime ministers in as many years, none proved capable of rising to the occasion. The task of changing the age-old feudal society and restructuring the traditional model of governance is undoubtedly big. It is definitely not easy to overcome the hurdles arising in these testing times. The onus lies on political leaders. People fought against the monarchy to set up a republican Nepal, not to see them gradually reverse their achievements.
As we mourn the demise of one of the key proponents of republican Nepal, we call upon political leaders to ask themselves: Have they been up to their task? People gave the parties the mandate to complete the peace and constitution-making process in order to guarantee their basic rights, to abolish the practices of discrimination based on caste, ethnicity, gender, region and religion, and to restructure the state to ensure equal participation of all and devolution of power. Consolidating the historic achievements of the last six years on the way to establishment of a federal, democratic republic will be the ultimate tribute to late Singh