KATHMANDU, Sept 13: An illiberal and uncompromising King Mahendra was tightening his rule through dissolution of an elected government and imposition of an autocratic system in the country during the 1960s.
But a young man from a landlord family in Saptari district dreamt of abolishing the monarchy and transforming Nepal into a republican state. Ram Raja Prasad Singh, 77, fought lifelong for that cause.
In 2008 Nepal was declared a republic and the largest political party in the Constituent Assembly, the UCPN (Maoist), fielded Singh as its candidate for the country´s first president. But he was defeated by Dr. Ram Baran Yadav.
After completing his studies in India, Singh returned to Nepal in the early 1960s and began his political crusade. In 1967, he fought a Rastriya Panchayat seat, but was defeated.
Undeterred, Singh fought again for the same seat after four years and was finally elected. But he was arrested from Singhadurbar when he arrived there to take his oath of office and secrecy.
When he was released after some four years in jail, he formed a political party-- Janabadi Morcha. Present-day Nepali Congress leader Khem Raj Bhatta Mayalu and Maoist leaders including Ram Karki and Kumar Paudel worked actively with his party.
Singh was arrested again, in Nepalgunj in 1980, and transferred to Kathmandu. When he was released, he vowed to launch an armed revolt against the state and left for India.
"Ramraja Prasadji was in India and we used to send some youths from Udaypur and Saptari districts to him for training in armed revolt," remembers Paudel.
According to those familiar with Singh, he visited various places in Sri Lanka and Myanmar apart from India in the course of arranging for arms for a revolt in Nepal.
In June 1985, a series of bombs went off, at Durbarmarg, a stone´s throw from Narayanhiti royal palace, and at the National Panchayat building, among other places. Singh owned up to the bombings.
Mystery surrounds the bombings even today as they took place at a time when the Nepali Congress had just launched a satyagraha or civil disobedience movement against the autocratic government.
Some construed the blasts as a conspiracy to foil the NC´s nonviolent movement that was gathering steam across the country.
PM offers his last homage.
NC leader Ramsharan Mahat, who was in jail together with Singh for some years, said the blasts were not in keeping with his character.
"I knew him not only in jail but since the time he contested elections. He was an extremely gentle, polished person, a man of high erudition," Mahat told Republica. "At the time he was an advocate of non-violence."
Though Singh dreamt of transforming the country into a republic, he never succeeded in forming a political party with an effective, national organization.
"In spirit he was quite a revolutionary leader but was weak in organization," said Mahat.
According to Maoist leader Paudel, Singh always supported the Maoist during their decade-long insurgency. "So much so that we held the first convention of our party´s Madhesi Liberation Front in Patna in 2001 with total support from Ramrajaji," he said.
In return, the UCPN (Maoist) proposed him as the country´s first president, only to lose to Dr.Yadav.
Singh´s funeral procession with state honors.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai have frequently claimed in public that Singh was the first individual to inspired them to launch an armed insurgency in the country.
"We were always inspired by his ideas. We have fulfilled his dream to transform the country into a republican state. For a true tribute, we have to promulgate a new constitution and transform the country into a federal setup," Dahal said while offering his tributes to Singh on Wednesday.