Bibeksheel Sajha Party President Rabindra Mishra’s call for doing away with federalism and a referendum on secularism has stirred Nepali politics anew. These are the things the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has long asked for. So are the old RPP agendas going mainstream? What does the party make of the recent turn of events and how are its election preparations going? Pratik Ghimire of ApEx talked to RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa.
What is the RPP up to these days? Your party seems to have gone completely off the radar.
We are currently focused on organizing the party general convention, which is to be held on November 13 in Kathmandu. Leading up to it, our district-level committees are organizing their own conventions. We will also complete the selection of convention representatives by October 1. The party is all-set to start campaigning for the upcoming local-level elections as well.
Your party didn’t fare well in the 2017 elections. Despite that you seem to be sticking to the agenda that has been rejected by voters.
There is a misconception about our agenda. The monarchy we are talking about is constitutional, not like the one we had before 2006. In our vision, the House of Representatives shall hold the legislative power and a ceremonial king will be the national guardian. When we lobby for a Hindu state, we don’t want any privilege for a particular religion. All we want is to restore the identity of Nepal as the country of Sanatan dharma.
Similarly, the dissolution of federalism will be accompanied by the formation of a strong central government, and well-equipped and capable local governments. In other words, it is a system where local governments will enjoy autonomy. It is a synergy between traditional and contemporary systems.
The ruling and the opposition parties have repeatedly failed, which is also the failure of the system they represent. We are a small party at this point, but the public has realized the necessity of our systematic and progressive agenda—nationalism, democracy, and Sanatan dharma. We are the alternative force with the most number of supporters.
What do you make of Rabindra Mishra’s recent political proposal over federalism and secularism?
I am positive about his proposal. RPP believes in the system, not a particular person, and Mishra is talking about changing the system. No matter who builds a progressive path, we will always feel proud. Fifteen years ago, RPP was alone in condemning federalism and secularism and now we have many other politicians, intellectuals, and members of the public who share our sentiment. Even senior leaders of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are changing their minds. I take this as my achievement. There should be more open dialogue and discussion on these matters.
Is the RPP open to an electoral alliance with other like-minded forces, say like Mishra’s party?
Although we prioritize political parties that are close to our ideals, our door is open for everyone for an electoral alliance. I can’t confirm it yet, but we will certainly work together with some parties in the upcoming local elections.
And the alliance for the federal election will rely on the steps of the ruling coalition. If the coalition continues into the election, of course, we will also come up with something competitive. Also, I can’t deny that we will be interested in merging with parties with shared beliefs.
As a close confidante of ex-King Gyanendra, how do you read his concerns? Is he too planning a comeback of some kind?
He has serious concerns. He always talks about how Nepal could achieve peace, prosperity, and stability. He feels sad because the political parties have failed to live up to people’s expectations. This is his public as well as official view. I don't think the ex-king wants to be involved in mainstream politics, though if the monarchy is restored, it will be a different matter altogether. He will accept the verdict of political parties and citizens.