By Maila Baje
Beset by relentless criticism of rank opportunism, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) seems anxious to project itself as the party of solutions.
Just before the anti-government Guthi protests hit a crescendo, RPP president Kamal Thapa proposed a round table conference accommodating all political forces between former king Gyanendra and Comrade Biplav to pull the country out of its current morass. That proposition couldn’t gain much traction amid the political frenzy the creeping threat of government control of religious trusts whipped up.
Now the RPP has decided to incorporate Nepali Congress icon B.P. Koirala’s national reconciliation policy together with Prithvi Narayan Shah’s Divine Counsels and King Mahendra’s nationalism as the party’s guiding philosophy.
It would be easy to mock the man taught in the tradition that disparaged B.P. on the airport tarmac that cold December day 43 years ago when the Nepali Congress leader ended his Indian exile with a message of reconciliation with the monarchy for the greater good of Nepal. But, since then, we’ve seen too many bizarre turnarounds for our own good.
Thapa himself isn’t probably too bothered either to find himself remembering B.P. Koirala more often than the Nepali Congress does these days. A man who won the admiration of many diehard republicans for the tenacity with which he stood behind the monarchy during those trying years following the April 2006 Uprising, Thapa was rewarded by the people – albeit indirectly – in the election to the second constituent assembly. Amid the fractured popular mandate, Thapa found himself on ever higher rungs of power.
The RPP leader tried hard to convince the country that his party’s participation in successive republican governments was a principled effort to push its agenda of restoring the monarchy and Hindu statehood from within. With the collective Nepali mind weighed down by far more intricate political convolutions at virtually every turn, the RPP’s linguistic legerdemain could only be comprehended as a guise for political unscrupulousness.
These days, Thapa is saying what a lot of Nepalis are saying and want to hear more of. Addressing a meeting of the party in Kathmandu the other day, Thapa said that democracy in Nepal is under threat because of the political parties’ wrong policies and corrupt tendencies.
“The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is using its mandate to capture state power, instead of addressing the concerns of the people,” Thapa declared. “The government handpicks people to appoint them to constitutional bodies, educational institutions, foreign missions and security agencies.”
While all this is happening, Thapa lamented, the main opposition does not have the will and the determination to confront the government. Exalting B.P. Koirala may be one way in which the RPP is doing the Nepali Congress’ job for that moribund organization.
But Thapa really needs to address and overcome his underlying restlessness over somehow not being able to earn enough credit should the monarchy and Hindu statehood be restored. Doubtless, without the RPP, the monarchy and Hindu statehood would not have remained at the center of our political discourse.
It is equally true that the NCP and the Nepali Congress would rush to assert their ability to compromise for the greater good should those institutions be restored. That shouldn’t mean Thapa should still be sticking his finger in the wind to figure out whether to concentrate more on the monarchy or Hindu statehood on a given day.
Round table, reconciliation and restlessness
By Maila Baje