Twenty-five functionaries and activists of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) are reported to have been injured when they were beaten up in the headquarters of Lamjung district on Saturday by the Maoists on the charge of their being royalists. This is not the first time since the latest nationwide people’s movement that those perceived to be royalists have come under heavy fire or have their programmes disrupted or have suffered physical ‘punishment’. It is understandable that most Nepalis loathe autocracy and the past royal attempts to perpetuate it. That is why the country saw a massive popular uprising of unprecedented proportions last April, and as a result, the active royal rule was ended, putting the institution of monarchy in a state of suspended animation pending the verdict of the Constituent Assembly (CA) on whether to keep or abolish it.

People or activists of other political parties may therefore be tempted to act against them whenever the royalists seek to undertake political activity. Particularly Congress, CPN-UML supporters had tried to teach the backers of the Panchayat system a lesson by creating obstacles to their political activity until some time after the 1990 people’s movement. Now it seems mainly the Maoists who have taken onto themselves the questionable task. However, those who acted or were against the old regime also need to take some time off to ponder that the Nepali people are going to establish a fully democratic constitution through the CA soon. However abhorrent the political views of the diehard royalists may be, they too deserve the freedom to continue their political exercise and put forward their opinions in a peaceful manner. In a pluralistic society for which the eight parties and the Nepali people have fought so hard, every school of thought should be tolerated. It is for the people to accept or reject any view — and in the present context, the people will give their verdict through the CA.

Anyway, those who carry the royalist agenda do not seem to stand a good chance of winning the people’s hearts and minds after all that has happened. But physical ‘punishment’ against the perceived royalists will unnecessarily draw attention to and give them free publicity or some sympathy too — much more than their grassroots base and the strength of their ideas warrant — apart from exuding the impression that those who fought for the CA, an issue unsettled for the past 56 years, are intolerant of other shades of opinion. So political leaders and workers of the eight parties should desist from following the example of the diehards of the royal regime who had been bent on bringing back a revised version of the Panchayat system in a multiparty garb. Undoubtedly, the eight political parties and most of the people who appear to support them still need to remain vigilant against any attempts from any quarters to reverse or modify the gains of the April Jana Andolan. This means they should focus on larger issues of concern to the general people, to the country, and to democracy rather than on the remnants of a discredited system.