The fear of saffron in Nepal: Rabindra Mishara’s controversy against secularism and federalism
“A specter haunts Europe, the specter of communism.
This phrase from the Communist Manifesto is perhaps the most haunting, chilling, and iconic opening line in all political literature written to date. In this sentence, Karl Marx prophetically expresses the inevitability of a political revolution in industrialized Europe in the mid-19th century. He maintains that although revolutions have different manifestations, the latent battle would be fought between two warring groups, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The story didn’t quite turn out the way Marx predicted and we know what happened a century later on the east side of the Berlin Wall.
Nonetheless, this line of openness has left a deep impact on the public consciousness of many and has been invoked many times in different contexts and with different variables. One such invocation that would suit Nepal’s current situation perfectly is the specter of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva).
With the so-called Nepalese alternative policy torchbearer Rabindra Mishra proposing a referendum on secularism and federalism and another youth leader of a supposedly “Marxist” party (CPN-UML) Mahesh Basnet proposing the referendum to the agenda at the party’s central committee meeting, it is safe to say that the saffron color of Hindutva politics evolved from the margins and spilled over into the mainstream of Nepalese politics, bringing with it the threatens to undo all progressive political achievements of the Republic of Nepal.
Hindutva politics in Nepal
Hindutva politics, with its blood brothers in anti-federalism and anti-republicanism, had been hiding on the fringes of Nepalese politics for the past fifteen years. With the victory of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the appointment of self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi as prime minister, Hindu nationalists in Nepal have benefited from a morale boost. much needed. Due to the 2015 Indian blockade and the degradation of Modi’s image in Nepal, Hindutva’s policies were once again put aside and those who called for the end of secularism among other progressive agendas have had poor results in the 2017 legislative elections.
With the coming to power of the unified Communist Party of Nepal (NCP), the common feeling was that Hindu nationalism had definitely disappeared from Nepalese politics. However, as conservative and Hindu nationalist forces within the Communist Party began to accumulate power and India began to gain lost ground, Hindu nationalist politics returned with even greater force.
the 44 page document transmitted by Rabindra Mishara calling for the demolition of federalism and a referendum on secularism illustrates this resurgence of Hindu nationalist politics. In the document, he makes bad attempts to paint his Hindutva ideology a lighter saffron color by claiming that he is not a Hindu nationalist, but that he believes Nepal was good and harmonious as a Hindu nation. . He also goes on to say that secularism has never been on the agenda of any political movement.
Despite his best attempts to hide his Hindutva, the fact that he is a closed-minded Hindu nationalist is evident when he glosses over the fact that secularism has always been a major requirement of all political movements, including the Maoist Civil War. which lasted a decade. Its polemical attack on federalism is in line with its hilltop Brahaminic ideology that blames the fledgling federalism for the failure of a unitary state.
The tip of the iceberg
Mishra’s attack on secularism and federalism is just the tip of the iceberg. It echoes the wider discontent of the ruling bourgeois class with issues of inclusion and representation and the sharing of their long-standing privileges. Their so-called alternative politics are none other than the B team of deceased conservative parties like the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). The rebranding is just a facade to attract the younger generations. The old elite vanguard was unhappy with issues of representation and inclusion. But, since he couldn’t openly criticize it, he used corruption and governance to attract young people and build his politics around them. But with Rabindra Mishra’s document, the ulterior motive becomes more evident.
It is also aided by the general failure of the main rulers, which almost fuels disenchantment with the system among the masses at large.
One can easily assume that India is the main player behind this. India still aims to create instability in the country and nothing would serve the BJP’s Hindu policy in India more than a puppet Hindu state on its northern borders. He has found a formidable new ally in Rabindra Mishra.
However, Mishra is not the only one in this case. With the exception of the traditional right, even some CPN-UML communists are joining the bandwagon of a referendum on secularism and federalism. This unison between an expansionist neighbor and the old elite would most certainly be catastrophic for the marginalized population of the country. It should therefore be the Dalits, indigenous nationalities, Madhesis, Tharus, Muslims, among other oppressed communities in the country, who should be more vigilant in the face of this tide of saffron which is slowly but certainly making its way into Nepalese politics.
Secularism and federalism, as well as inclusion and representation, have been achieved by the Nepalese masses over years of relentless struggle and sacrifice. They were enshrined in the constitution at the cost of the martyrdom of countless martyrs. To question them is to question the legitimacy of the constitution and to minimize the pain and turmoil that the Nepalese people have had to go through to institutionalize them. Therefore, it is time for the oppressed people of the country and the progressive thinkers to unite again to save the hard-won progressive gains. We must show the reactionaries that the same anger of the masses who overthrew the monarchy will await them if they question our progressive achievements.