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Politics

Nepal nationwide protests to call for restoration of monarchy

Home office warns force may be used, as right-wing party pushes for Hindu state

KATHMANDU -- Nepal's right-wing Rastriya Prajatantra Party, royalist groups and pro-monarchy citizens are set to ratchet up demonstrations calling for the restoration of the monarchy and a Hindu state.

The RPP will launch a movement for the restoration of the monarchy from the southern city of Hetauda on Friday, to be followed on Saturday by rallies in another southern city, Jhapa, and the capital, Kathmandu. Around 10,000 royalists are expected at the Kathmandu demonstration.

The monarchy was abolished in 2008, and a section of Nepal's population still favors its restoration. The RPP is gambling on their support.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a directive to 77 districts in seven provinces to quell the pro-monarchy demonstrations -- by force if needed.

Despite the directive, the RPP is adamant on going through with the demonstrations.

Damodar Wagle, president of the RPP youth organization Bagmati, told Nikkie Asia on Wednesday: "We are supporting the royalists, and our movement will continue despite the directive of the home ministry. If they use force, we will retaliate."

The party has been holding demonstrations in major cities since last month. Sporadic pro-monarchy protests have previously been seen over the last 12 years, and the current wave of rallies started on a small scale in June in Kathmandu.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the weak performance of the ruling Nepal Communist Party has led more right-wing groups and pro-monarchy Nepalese to support the demonstrations and demand Nepal again become a Hindu state.

The ruling party has been unpopular lately because it is embroiled in infighting and corruption and has failed to control the pandemic.

Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattari and members of the ruling party have called the demonstrations undemocractic.

There are concerns that Hindutva ideology -- a form of Hindu nationalism in India -- might be spilling over into Nepal. Observers in Kathmandu said the pro-monarchy movement could benefit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, as they want neighboring Nepal to also become a Hindu state again.

"Our aim is to reestablish the monarchy and a Hindu state in Nepal. We will gather support from the streets and also push for a referendum based on the 2015 constitution via winning the next general election," Wagle said.

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