Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Kamal Thapa.
KATHMANDU: Kamal Thapa, once synonymous with the staunch royalist stance of the former Panchas, underwent a transformation after his defeat to Rajendra Lingden in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) convention.
While his royalist convictions shifted, Thapa has now returned to his original stance with a nuanced perspective on the envisioned model of monarchy.
In an interview with Khabarhub, Kamal Thapa asserted, “Foreign influences will not dictate the reinstatement of monarchy or a Hindu nation in Nepal. Even if the military intervenes, monarchy will not resurface. A hasty return of a Hindu nation or monarchy cannot be sustainable.”
Thapa contends that the restoration of monarchy is plausible, but with a significant departure from the past.
He advocates for a restrained role for the returning king, emphasizing the concentration of power within the parliament.
“My beliefs have evolved. Succession laws were previously dictated by the king, but now the parliament should be the authority in framing them,” Thapa told Khabarhub.
Addressing concerns about Paras Shah, son of former King Gyanendra Shah, he added, “As for Paras, he has publicly declared that he is not the future king.”
Currently serving as the Chairman of RPP-Nepal, Thapa expressed readiness to unite the party with Rajendra Lingden.
However, he conditioned the alliance on RPP committing not to join the government until conditions for establishing a Hindu nation and monarchy are met.
While RPP has pledged to stay out of the government until such an environment is created, Thapa signaled his willingness to unite the party under Lingden’s leadership.
He emphasized, “I want to convey through Khabarhub that I have no aspiration for leadership in that scenario.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Thapa delved into the reasons behind the unsuccessful direct rule of King Gyanendra and criticized the royal system post-convention.
Before delving into the political questions with Thapa, let’s explore the establishment of RPP-Nepal and the series of breakdowns in Thapa’s own words:-
My political journey commenced within the framework of the Panchayat system. Following the 2046 movement that ushered in multi-party democracy, I became affiliated with the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party under the leadership of Surya Bahadur Thapa.
In 2048, the RPP (Lokendra Bahadur Chand faction and (Surya Bahadur) Thapa faction merged, initially contesting elections separately. Faced with limited success, the two factions eventually united.
Since the inception of RPP, I have consistently held leadership roles within the party. In 2061 BS, during King Gyanendra’s pivotal move, disagreements arose with then-party Chairman Pashupati Shamsher Rana, leading to the establishment of RPP-Nepal.
The political landscape shifted in 2063 BS as the nation transitioned towards a republic.
At this juncture, we envisioned RPP-Nepal as a transformative political force, advocating for a democracy with a constitutional monarchy, an enduring Hindu nation with religious inclusivity, and robust local autonomous governance.
Navigating challenging times, we swiftly gained the trust of the people. Post the 2070 BS Constituent Assembly elections, RPP- Nepal emerged as the third-largest ideological force, trailing behind the Nepali Congress and Communists, and the fourth-largest parliamentary entity.
Throughout the constitutional drafting process, we ardently pursued our agenda. While 25 members of the 601-strong Constituent Assembly failed to achieve major milestones, we secured a crucial provision allowing for changes in all matters, barring national integrity and sovereignty, through the people’s mandate.
RPP-Nepal stood as the sole dissenting voice when the constitution was initially proposed.
Despite our opposition, we collaborated with the constitutional system after it garnered a two-thirds majority, steadfastly anchoring our principles in the people’s will.
After the Constitution’s promulgation in 2073 (2015), we found ourselves compromising with misguided trends in the pursuit of party expansion.
The once principled identity of RPP-Nepal gave way to opportunism, power-centricity, and a departure from its core values.
Enduring about four challenging years, on Falgun 7, 2078 BS, I spearheaded the revival of RPP Nepal, rekindling its original ideals and beliefs. The party had undergone multiple divisions, becoming a casualty of internal discord.
The recurrent fragmentation of RPP prompts reflection on its root causes.
One contributing factor lies in the predominantly individualistic nature of leaders, many of whom were former Panchas (Panchayat regime supporters).
The political upbringing of these individuals, accustomed to an all-encompassing monarchy during the Panchayat era, posed challenges in adapting to the multi-party character of a democratic system.
Furthermore, a persistent power-centric tendency within the party exacerbated divisions, with this inclination still prevalent.
When considering the ideological aspect of the party’s splits, historical influences play a role. In 2047 BS, two factions emerged with identical names, reflecting a divergence in liberal and illiberal tendencies from the Panchayat era.
The influence of liberal views during Surya Bahadur Thapa’s leadership in the Panchayat period likely attracted individuals with similar perspectives.
Following the RPP unity convention post the 2063 BS political change, RPP Nepal uniquely championed the agenda of democracy with a constitutional monarchy and a Hindu nation.
However, internal strife ensued, leading to a challenging situation.
Notably, key figures in RPP’s history, including Surya Bahadur Thapa, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, Pashupati Samsher Rana, and Prakash Chandra Lohani, supported republicanism and federalism.
The divergence in ideology arose from the belief that the nation’s post-2063 trajectory was flawed and would eventually be proven wrong.
Despite the ideological differences, efforts were made to unite RPP and RPP Nepal after 2073 BS.
The intention was to create a formidable force aligned with the agenda of democracy with a constitutional monarchy.
However, internal distortions emerged, overshadowing the party’s agenda and ideology. The focus shifted to opportunism and power, prompting moral responsibility on my part as the party president.
A unity convention was convened, where I presented a political proposal emphasizing the party’s dissatisfaction with those repeatedly joining the government without ensuring the restoration of a Hindu nation and monarchy.
Despite my commitment, challenges arose during the leadership election, casting doubt on the party’s recognition of the monarchy’s role in the political landscape.
Attempting to correct the course within the party, I faced resistance.
Contrary to misconceptions, I did not immediately form a new party after losing the election as the party Chairman.
I remained within the party for three months, striving to address concerns.
However, when reconciliation proved elusive, I reluctantly departed from a party where I had invested nearly 30 years of effort and left with a heavy heart.
Despite my panel winning decisively in the election, a controversial vote cancellation left me in a state of disheartening defeat.
You garnered 1,617 votes, while Rajendra Lingden secured 1,844 votes.
Regrettably, 472 invalid votes were mistakenly attributed to my name. Although I prefer not to delve into this matter extensively, I feel compelled to state it for the record.
Electronic voting determined the outcomes for the positions of vice president, general secretary, and all central members, while only the chairman’s ballot was cast manually.
Recognizing the mysterious circumstances surrounding this process, the election committee invalidated the votes attributed to me, resulting in my defeat.
Despite the setback, I gracefully accepted defeat and extend my congratulations to the newly elected president, Rajendra Lingden.
My primary concern centered around preserving RPP as an independent and self-governing entity.
Given our commitment to a constitutional monarchy supported by all members, I sought assurance that internal party affairs would remain untouched.
Failing to secure this guarantee, I made the decision to part ways.
Following the convention, there was a shift in the party’s rhetoric from the slogan of “Rajsanstha” (monarchy) to a renewed emphasis on the need for monarchy. Why this change?
The political landscape is undergoing a peculiar evolution. At the re-establishment of RPP Nepal, we initially refrained from making the restoration of the monarchy our agenda, considering the contemporary circumstances while maintaining faith, trust, and respect towards the monarchy.
After about a year of practice, reevaluating the country’s situation and my personal convictions, the Central Working Committee unanimously resolved that the restoration of the monarchy would be the primary agenda of RPP Nepal.
Ideologically, we advocate for a Hindu nation with democracy, a constitutional monarchy, religious equality, and complete religious freedom.
Additionally, we propose replacing the current form of federalism with a two-level government.
Moreover, we advocate for a direct election of the Prime Minister by the people, moving away from the traditional parliamentary system.
We also emphasize the need for a significant overhaul of the current election system, proposing a direct system for the House of Representatives and a proportional system for the National Assembly and local levels.
Regarding the differences between RPP Nepal and Rajendra Lingden’s RPP after both have embraced the agenda of restoring the monarchy, there is no fundamental ideological distinction.
However, there may be a slight lack of clarity in tactics.
RPP Nepal, drawing inspiration from the political proposal of the Unity Congress, has decided to engage in a mass struggle or movement to rally public support for re-establishing the monarchy and the Hindu nation.
The strategic approach of Rajendra Lingden’s RPP remains unclear, especially considering their contradictory stance on federalism and their involvement in provincial government duties.
Notably, our party, during the time when Rajendra Lingden and I were aligned, criticized the decision to participate in the Prachanda-led government, considering it a serious political mistake.
Even during the Unity Congress, they committed to joining the government only when the Hindu nation and monarchy were assured, yet recent indications suggest a potential shift in this stance.
This apparent tactical difference distinguishes our approach.
Is party unity still a possibility?
If both RPP and RPP Nepal affirm their commitment to the mandate of the unity convention, vowing not to enter the government without re-establishing the monarchy and the Hindu nation, with a strategy centered on people’s struggle, I believe there could be a convergence of views.
Such an agreement might not only foster cooperation or form a united front but also lead to the unification of the party.
I want to emphasize through Khabarhub that, in such a scenario, I harbor no aspirations for leadership.
Are you open to meeting Rajendra Lingden?
Should there be ideological and tactical alignment, we are prepared to unify the party, with Rajendra Lingden assuming the presidency for the purpose of unification.
However, a crucial condition remains the same – agreement on not participating in the government unless the restoration of the Hindu nation and monarchy is assured, adhering to the mandate of the Unity Convention, and a shared acknowledgment that people’s struggle will be our strategy.
If these terms are met, we are willing to unite.
If not, we will continue on our independent path, one marked by a long and arduous journey.
We have weathered struggles and know it is not an easy endeavor. If we succeeded in navigating the challenges of 2063 BS, the current environment offers a relatively smoother path.
During the unity session of RPP, Rajendra Lingden raised the issue of generational change. Kamal Thapa indicated that the re-establishment of the monarchy would be a slogan for the distant future. Was that a political maneuver?
It was a prudent move on his part. However, it was a misconception.
Since 1973 BS, I have consistently stated that foreigners will not impose a monarchy or a Hindu nation on Nepal.
Even a military coup will not bring back the monarchy. A hastily established Hindu state or monarchy is not sustainable.
Restoration should and can happen through the will of the Nepalese people, as enshrined in the constitution.
Embracing this principle, we have cooperated with the constitution and the constitutional system.
Some have misunderstood my approach, accusing me of diluting the agenda and consolidating power.
To refute these allegations, I presented a proposal at the Ekta Congress, which was endorsed by a two-thirds majority.
While I acknowledge the accusations, I have consistently emphasized that my intentions are pure.
In the challenging circumstances of 2063 BS, I risked my life advocating for the Hindu nation and monarchy.
If someone now alleges that the agenda has been weakened for personal gain, I accept the charge.
If the current RPP adopts this path, it is a positive development, and I welcome it wholeheartedly.
You announced your intention to leave the party, intending to solely champion the cause of a Hindu Rastra, attributing his decision to perceived interference by the former king Gyanendra in the unity convention. Now, as royalist demonstrations loom, you seem to be reconsidering the monarchy’s agenda. Do you think you might be getting a bit carried away, or is there merit in the concerns raised by King Gyanendra?
Your observation is correct. At times, I may exhibit a degree of impulsiveness, a trait occasionally seen in emotional individuals.
However, when it comes to my commitment to the monarchy, it has remained steadfast throughout my life.
From my childhood until now, I have never expressed disdain for the monarchy.
Undoubtedly, the betrayal I experienced after the convention may have fueled a more impassioned expression.
I acknowledge that. The pain of betrayal prompted me to articulate negative sentiments about certain actions of the king or the royal institution.
Upon reflection, I realize that a king or monarchy is an institution without the luxury or inherent capacity to refute accusations.
It remains silent in the face of allegations, enduring the pain of incidents such as the Royal massacre.
Perhaps, I should not have made the comments I did about such an institution.
Nonetheless, there is truth in those comments. I now recognize the wisdom of tempering my expressions with certain truths in mind.
You are currently in the process of forming a royalist front. How likely is its establishment, and who is expected to participate in this front?
Before delving into the concept of the front, let me add some context. The current system has proven to be ineffective.
The establishment of a republic, secularism, and federalism in 2063 aimed at transformative changes, liberating the people from servitude, fostering good governance, and ushering in economic prosperity.
During the fervor of the movement, a narrative emerged, driven especially by foreign pressure and the influence of extremist left-wing factions within the country.
This narrative attributed the root causes of the nation’s afflictions—disease, hunger, illiteracy, poverty, and backwardness—to the Hindu religion, the feudal monarchy, and the unitary state system.
These assumptions shaped the political changes of 2063 BS, a period of which I am an eyewitness and a witness.
At that time, we believed that the ideology was flawed. Despite the initial good intentions, 18 years have elapsed, and we find ourselves at the opposite end of our intended destination. It is now evident that those assumptions failed.
While a faction acknowledging this failure contends that the system is not at fault, only the leaders, parties, or characters, others argue that it is the system that needs changing, not the situation.
Our conclusion is that the situation has worsened due to a flawed system, and to effect change, the system itself must be transformed.
Just as planting thornapples will not yield mangoes, we believe that with a faulty road, changing the driver or the vehicle will not alter the destination.
Following the failure of the current system, our proposal for an alternative system is clear.
We advocate for an eternal Hindu nation with democracy, religious equality, complete religious freedom, a two-level government, a directly elected prime minister, and reforms in the election system.
However, implementing this alternative is no easy task. Recent events indicate that those orchestrating the changes of 2063 BS are now entrenched in power, amassing wealth and perpetuating their dominance through successive elections.
Breaking this cycle within the current election system is a formidable challenge. In light of this, we believe that a movement is the way forward.
Arriving at this conclusion, we recognize that the movement should not solely be driven by RPP Nepal but should become a people’s movement, involving diverse segments of society and professions.
This realization has led to the concept of a front. In this front, we envision the participation not only of parties aligned with RPP Nepal but also nationalists, patriots, democrats, monarchists, Hinduists, and anti-corruption parties.
Crucially, we have stipulated that leadership should not be a point of contention during the formation of this front.
RPP Nepal, at least, does not vie for leadership. Let us convene, decide on a leadership or commander for the movement, someone understanding to everyone involved.
With such an approach, we believe positive change can be achieved in a relatively short timeframe.
Have discussions taken place with other parties regarding the formation of the front, or has it remained at the proposal stage?
We’ve engaged in preliminary discussions. To broaden and formalize the discourse, we are convening our party’s central committee meeting next week.
During this meeting, we plan to finalize a concept paper and engage in discussions with various political forces and groups.
Recently, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal mentioned adopting a strategy to counter the royalists during a meeting with editors. Are you suggesting that the royalist front is a response to the Prime Minister’s stance, or are you aiming to challenge him?
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. In the current political landscape, various parties employ strategies encompassing persuasion, punishment, reward, division, and power.
There are indications of this, and certain individuals are being detained, prosecuted, and neutralized.
Interestingly, the largest party among pro-royalty factions, represented in Parliament, is RPP.
Even the Prime Minister seems to acknowledge that bringing them into the government might weaken their potential for movement.
Whether the RPP aligns itself with this party in the future remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, I believe liberating the country from the prevailing corrupt system and corrupt rulers is not confined to any specific party or individual; it has become a common agenda for the people. This necessitates the formation of some kind of front.
We initially did not believe that change was achievable through a movement.
The effort persists, and its success hinges on the evolving situation, events, the role of various actors, and the monarchy.
You previously suggested that change is possible within the constitutional framework; why opt for a movement now? On one hand, there’s the potential for change through a majority within the constitution, while on the other hand, the system has failed, and a movement is necessary. Isn’t this a bit contradictory?
This is not a contradiction. Our movement aims to exert pressure on major political parties and the government.
Under this pressure, the current system can be altered or improved by securing consensus among all parties, amending the constitution.
Currently, they feel secure and in control. Their insistence that what they have done is right stems from the advantages they derive. Introducing a new government might jeopardize these advantages.
By generating strong pressure, we aim to establish recognition based on consensus.
What type of monarchy are you advocating for? Is it similar to the past?
Our goal is to establish a system where accountability extends from the king to the Maoists.
Although it might appear uncomfortable, it is achievable.
I have engaged in discussions with top Maoist leaders on various occasions.
The potential for this lies in the back of their minds. Hence, just as the 2063 BS protestors banned the monarchy, they won’t prohibit its establishment by others.
There’s a systematic spread of illusions, as reiterated by the Prime Minister recently, alleging attempts to replace the republic with an autocracy.
However, our intention is not to establish an absolute monarchy. It is not an effort to revert to an autocracy.
We aspire to establish a democracy with a monarchy. We envision a system where the king or monarchy operates within constitutional bounds, subject to parliamentary oversight as a moral authority shared by all.
It would be governed by representatives elected by the people and political parties.
Therefore, there’s no need to abandon the current democratic or republican system to return to the old system of autocracy.
The same applies to a Hindu state. Accusations suggest that establishing a Hindu Rastra will provide preferential treatment to one religion.
However, our aim is not to oppress or treat other religions unfairly by establishing a Hindu Rashtra. Clarifying this misconception can facilitate change based on consensus.
As I’ve reiterated before, consider the family analogy: if there are parents in a family, their mere presence instills a moral foundation, guiding their children’s behavior.
Similarly, Nepal is currently under a form of dictatorship, and a monarchy is crucial to preventing this.
I often hear statements from figures like KP Oli and Sher Bahadur Deuba questioning the adoption of a king based on lineage.
However, the primary focus should be on recognizing the need for a monarchy.
While a monarchy possesses both strengths and weaknesses, labeling it as hereditary is only one aspect.
Even if a bad character arises from heredity, mechanisms can be implemented to control and prevent them from ascending to the throne.
Succession laws, previously decided by the king, are now subject to parliamentary decisions.
My beliefs have evolved over time, and in the case of Paras, he has publicly stated that he is not the future king.
By making this clear, Paras himself has addressed the issue, and no one should put him forward while negating the rationale and necessity of the monarchy.
Addressing Gyanendra’s role, some might argue that he harbored ambitions to undermine democracy.
However, as an eyewitness, the king expressed to me on multiple occasions that the country teetered on the brink of civil war.
Despite offering opportunities to political parties repeatedly, elections couldn’t be conducted, prompting the king to act.
The intent was to restore peace within three years and hand over the people’s democracy to them through elections, but this attempt was not successful.
Various factors contributed to the failure, including the inability to gain the trust of political parties, unsuitable individuals entrusted with responsibilities, a breakdown in understanding with the international community, and the failure to win public trust during the 14-month reign.
Acknowledging my role in the government during the last four months of the king’s tenure, I self-criticize for not being able to improve the situation that unfolded until then.