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Calls for restoring Hindu state grow strong in Nepal

The development in the Himalayan state has taken place when Hindu nationalism has dominated the politics of its southern neighbour India.

A Nepalese activist chants slogans during a protest demanding Nepal be declared a Hindu state in the national capital, Kathmandu, on September 1, 2015. (Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE Himalayan state of Nepal, which was a Hindu state before adopting a federal, secular and democratic identity in 2008, is witnessing a growing call for the restoration of the older identity, i.e., of the Hindu state.

Leaders of the country’s major political parties are seeking the restoration of the Hindu state by setting up the ‘Vaidik Sanatan Hindu State’. The call is also becoming stronger in the Nepali Congress, the country’s grand-old party which is also the largest in all three tiers of the government — local, federal and provincial, the Indo Asian News Service reported.

More than 950 general committee members of the party signed a petition at its recently held 14th ‘Mahasamiti’ meeting in national capital Kathmandu seeking the Hindu state’s restoration in Nepal, Lokesh Dhakal, who is a leader of the campaign, told IANS.

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Shankar Bhandari, a lawmaker and central working committee member of the Nepali Congress, is leading the campaign in the party for restoring the Hindu state.

More than 2,200 Nepali Congress delegates attended the meeting which is also considered the party’s highest-level policy-making body.

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Pro-Hindu campaigners said the Nepali Congress should take the lead as the majority of the general committee members are in favour of restoring the Hindu state in the country.

On February 21, Bhandari along with members of his campaign met former Nepali prime minister and president of the Nepali Congress, Sher Bahadur Deuba, urging him to incorporate the agenda of the Hindu state and endorse it from the Mahasamiti meeting, Dhakal said, adding the latter rejected the idea.

The veteran leader reportedly told the delegation that the current situation in Nepal doesn’t allow the Nepali Congress to adopt the agenda of restoring the Hindu state. But Bhandari cautioned that sentiments were strong both inside and outside the party seeking restoration of Nepal’s Hindu identity and the Nepali Congress would ignore it at its own peril.

Two other largest parties in Nepal — Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) — are silent over the restoration of the Hindu state, IANS reported. Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the fourth-largest party in the Nepali parliament, has also spoken in favour of restoring the Hindu state.

On February 21, the party organised a rally in Kathmandu seeking the Hindu state and monarchy and submitted a 40-point agenda to prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

“The country has reached a critical stage, so we need a new understanding and agreement among the political parties,”  Rajendra Lingden, chairman of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, was quoted as saying in the news report.

But Dahal, who is from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), did not comment much on the matter, said Lingden.

More than 81 per cent of Nepal’s population are Hindus.

The demand for restoring the Hindu state in Nepal has grown louder at a time when its southern neighbour India is witnessing Hindu nationalism at play under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi. In January, the Indian PM inaugurated the Ram temple, a project that his Bharatiya Janata Party has been aiming to give wings to over several decades, in the holy town of Ayodhya in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh bordering Nepal.

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