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Inside the NC, voices in favor of Hindu state are gaining ground

Inside the NC, voices in favor of Hindu state are gaining ground

Secularism is an essential characteristic of a democratic society. When Nepal adopted a new constitution in 2015, secularism was one of its defining features. Through the constitution, the nation that once identified as the only Hindu kingdom took a bold step to do away with both monarchy and Hindu statehood. But this wasn’t without resistance. Hindu organizations and pro-royalist parties such as the Rastriya Prajatantra Party were among the fiercest opponents of republicanism and secularism. But the major political parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, and CPN (Maoist Center)—prevailed on the decision. 

Nearly a decade after Nepal promulgated the new constitution, the topic of Hindu state has once again seeped into public and political discourse. 

Of late, even major political parties—not just the pro-royalist RPP—seem to be entertaining the idea of reinstating the Hindu state. The Nepali Congress, considered the flagbearer of democratic ideals, is one of them. Voices in favor of the Hindu state are gaining ground inside the party, with an increasing number of central leaders supporting the idea of reinstating Hindu statehood. The NC is currently holding the meeting of its Mahasamiti, the party’s highest decision making body, and although religion or secularism is not on the official agenda, it has figured out rather prominently on the margins of the meeting.  

The Hindu state restoration campaign led by Central Working Committee (CWC) leader Shankar Bhandari is getting increasing support from the other CWC leaders. It is said that more than three dozen members are in favor of restoring the Hindu state. On Tuesday, party’s senior leaders Shanshank Koirala and Tara Nath Ranabhat signed the petition in support of the Hindu statehood campaign. Out of 169 CWC members, 33 have signed in favor of the Hindu state. A considerable number of non-CWC members are also said to be in support of the Hindu state. 

In the previous Mahasamiti meeting held in 2018, around 700 out of 1500 Mahasamiti members had put their signatures in favor of the Hindu state. The number of Mahasamiti members in favor of restoring the Hindu state is said to have reached at least 800. This clearly shows that the NC leadership is under pressure to review its position on secularism, which is enshrined in the 2015 constitution. 

Just a few days back, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba himself said that the party could consider reviewing its position on secularism.  

While the Hindu statehood has always been one of the key agendas of royalist parties like the RPP, the issue gained traction among the major political parties particularly after the rise of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India. It is in the interest of the BJP, which thrives on Hindutva politics, to see Nepal as a Hindu nation. The BJP-affiliated religious organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is one of the chief proponents of Hindu statehood in Nepal.  

Observers say the influence of BJP is international; it’s not just limited within the borders of India. The UK, home to a large Hindu Indian diaspora, is a case in point. Elements of extreme Hindutva politics, which believes in Hindu hegemony, have been reported in various parts of Britain in recent years.


In Nepal, where more than 80 percent of the population identify as Hindus, it is not hard to imagine how and why secularism became a hot-button topic. 

When the large majority of the population is Hindu, it doesn’t take any stretch of imagination to see why the major political parties are jumping on the Hindu statehood bandwagon. Political analysts say though Nepal’s political parties may not agree with Hindutva politics, by restoring the Hindu state—or by at least toying with the idea—they are trying to appeal to the voters. Some even contend that secularism was the agenda carried by the Maoist party that saw the Hindu statehood and monarchy with the same lens.  

NC leader Lokesh Dhakal says that the party should take the position of scrapping secularism and stand in favor of the Hindu state as around 90 percent people support the Hindu state. 

Other senior NC leaders who back the Hindu state are the party’s Gandaki province chief Sukraraj Sharma, Bagmati chief Indra Bahadur Baniya, former minister Dilendra Prasad Badu, and CWC members Pushpa Bhushal and Devenedra Raj Kandel. 

Pro-Hindu forces are already intensifying their activities across the country to restore the Hindu state and monarchy. But the major parties are against reinstating the monarchy. 

In fact, the document presented by the NC Vice-president, Purna Bahadur Khadka, at the ongoing Mahasamiti meeting has strongly criticized the efforts to revive monarchy, dubbing it meaningless. The document does not make a mention about Hindu state restoration, although the activities and murmurs within the party suggest volumes.