World Bulletin/News Desk
Right-wing Hindu activists began a 10-day campaign on Wednesday for a referendum on declaring Nepal a Hindu state.
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal's 10-day Rath Yatra, or chariot procession, from Jhapa in eartern Nepal is expected to arrive in the capital, Kathmandu, on Jan. 2. It will hold processions in 30 districts across the country and will feature religious and cultural programmes.
The party want a referendum on whether Nepal should be declared Hindu or secular in the country's constitution, which is currently being drafted.
At a press conference Saturday, the party's leader Kamal Thapa, who was Home Minister during former King Gyanendra’s period of direct rule, said: “We are supporting Hinduism as the nation’s identity and advocating religious freedom and equal treatment for all religions by the state.”
Before officially becoming a secular republic in 2007 Nepal was the world’s only "Hindu kingdom."
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, which currently holds 25 of the Constituent Assembly’s 601 seats, and a vote share of 6 per cent, has been increasingly vocal in its push to reinstate aspects of the 1990 constitution relating to religion.
Some within the ruling parties have previously expressed solidarity with the party's position on secularism and the necessity of holding a referendum on the matter.
In October, Khum Bahadur Khadka, a former minister and current member of the Nepali Congress party's Central Working Committee, led a campaign promoting "Nation, Nationality and Sanatan Hindu State."
Though no other seniors within the party joined the campaign, the silence of high-level leaders in the Nepali Congress and its ruling coalition partner – the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) – was criticised as providing tacit approval for a broader campaign to roll back changes to the country’s political order, established since the end of the decade-long civil war in 2006.
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal mobilization comes on the heels of controversy surrounding the remarks of British Ambassador Andrew Sparkes, who in an op-ed for a national daily on December 10 urged leaders to ensure the right of Nepali citizens to choose their own religion in the new constitution.
At Wednesday’s gathering, Thapa accused foreigners of pouring money into activities aimed at religious conversion, and said Nepal had become secular at the urging of the international community.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Aralık 2014, 11:10