Ever since the Nepalese monarchy was abolished some nine years ago by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in May of 2008, the Government of Nepal has operated as a secular federal republic, although a formal constitution describing it as such was only able to be written after a much internal argument in 2015. This was not accepted without controversy or resistance, and ever since the King of Nepal was ordered to step down from power, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has been fighting to have him restored to his former position, and Nepal restored as a Himalayan Hindu State once more.
However, it seems that the party has run afoul of a constitutional disagreement.
Despite having been active throughout the country’s transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular republic with no prior difficulties, last week the Nepalese Electoral Commission ruled last Friday to forcibly amend the RPP’s statue and remove references to both “monarchy” and “Hindu state”.
In explanation of this ruling, the Commission argued that the party’s monarchist and pro-Hindu policies were in direct violation of the Constitution, which explicitly describes Nepal as being both secular and a federal republic. Therefore, any party platform advocating the amendment of either would be unconstitutional.
It also clarified that it forbids any party advocating hatred, or that threaten the security of the state.
For their part, the RPP are not taking this ruling lying down. Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the RPP, Mr Kamal Thapa, declared that through its ruling the EC has “robbed the party of its soul”.
The Party has also endeavoured to take the matter to court, declaring the EC were, in turn, being unconstitutional and urging them to reconsider their verdict. As further backing for their cause, the RPP has highlighted that the Constitution also protects individuals’ and parties’ rights to advocate particular ideologies and to political expression, and pointed out that, under the EC’s current precedent, the communist and anti-federalist parties would also be illegal as they too challenge the constitution by threatening its federal and republican order.
“Can the Election Commission remove communism from the statutes of communist parties including the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), which also contravenes the constitution?” Thapa asked in the Kathmandu Post.
Party members have also begun undertaking public protests against the action, which included torch rallies and peaceful demonstration. There has been an insistence that legal measures will be pursued to ensure that the verdict is reversed and the original statute reinstated.
Undeterred by the EC, the RPP has also used the ruling as an incentive to move forward with their agenda, and are currently planning to submit an amendment to the Nepalese Constitution to restore national Hinduism, and remove any references to secularism from the constitution itself. This will be accompanied by further acts of public demonstration and protests in order to put public pressure on the Nepalese government.