» 06/04/2008, 00.00
Pro-monarchy Hindus accept transition to republic
The leader of the Nepalese branch of the World Hindu Federation acknowledges the change of the constitution sanctioned by the constitutional assembly. Dissent still remains over the declaration of the "secular state": if this is not revoked, public protests are in the offing.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The World Hindu Federation, a defender of the monarchy and supporter of the king, has accepted the modification of the constitution that sanctions Nepal's transition to a federal democratic republic. After king Gyanendra Shah's statement of his position, agreement also came yesterday from the Hindu movement, affirming its respect of the popular decision expressed through the constitutional assembly: the World Hindu Federation will no longer uphold the monarchy, in part because of the favourable view expressed by the king, who has accepted the will of his people.
Bholanath Jha, president of the Nepalese section of the WHF, says "We were royalists, but no longer now". Rhetorically, he adds: "Why should we be royalists when the king has accepted the declaration of republic?".
The agreement of the Hindu movement follows the dissent expressed by some pro-Hindu Indian activists, who affirm that they accept "reluctantly" the transition to the republic, but at the same time ask for the revocation of the declaration of the country as a "secular" state. For this reason, the WHF has repeated that it will unleash public protests if this request is not met at the next meeting of the constitutional assembly, scheduled for tomorrow, June 5. According to Bholanath Jha, in fact, the declaration of state secularism damages "national identity".
Recently, deposed king Gyanendra Shah has begun the process of moving out of the royal palace, while asking for proper accommodations for himself and his mother, Ratna Shah, who is in her 80's. In an interview with AsiaNews, interior minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula emphasises that "three of the major ruling parties have agreed to allow the former king to use the Nagarjuna palace, and also we are likely to agree to provide Mahendra Manjil - a special building constructed by former king Mahendra which is inside the Narayanhiti palace premises - for Ratna".
Hindu fundamentalists plan to restore a theocratic monarchy
Nepali Hindus organise a conference in Mumbai a few days before the deadline for the signing of the new democratic constitution on 28 May. They are afraid the country could lose its identity that was once defined by religion. Christian and Muslim minorities are concerned about such plans, insisting that under the republic they exercise greater freedom of religion.
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For the first time since the end of the monarchy, Gyanendra has gone to New Delhi. It is possible that he will meet with Prime Minister Singh and members of the BJP. For the former Nepalese ambassador in India, the former monarch could ask for pressure on the Maoist government.
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