Democracy in Nepal, History
The well-known Kot Massacre saw to the rise of the Rana regime. They ruled Nepal for approximately 104 years, before there was any hope for democracy in Nepal. The members of the Rana regime were Britain’s allies and supported their war efforts during World War I and World War 2. It took the determination of a King who was blackmailed and forced to back the Ranas, to take a stand - and he did.
By the year 1950, the growing unhappiness of the Nepali people was
evident, with a few anti-Rana political parties flaring up all over the
country. King Tribhuvan fled to India with his family to escape the wrath of
the Ranas, who were quickly losing ground. Public outrage and uproar led
by King Tribhuvan soon toppled the Rana regime. The King was reinstated as
the ruler of Nepal in 1951 and he set about transforming Nepal into a
democratic country. With political parties, voting rights and the freedom to
make their own decisions, it seemed that democracy in Nepal was going to
By 1959 King Tribhuvan died and his son, King Mahendra, was in power.
After a failed election, the government was dismissed and political parties
were abolished. King Mahendra established a new government that consisted of
councils and not political parties. This gave the King sole power of the
country and small changes (such as Nepali being the only official language)
created a time bomb waiting to explode. The Mahendra Museum has detailed
exhibits on his life as king and the decisions he made that influenced the
country. As expected, student demonstrations and public upset had the
country in turmoil as King Birendra succeeded his father in 1972.
Unfortunately, so much damage had been done to Nepal that the 1991
elections and another change in government procedures just worsened the
economic crisis of the country.
Over the following years, the reoccurring violence and political struggles had not yet ceased. With the vast
differences in options between political parties, the lapse in
constitutional rights, the uprising of rebel parties such as the Maoists and
the restrictions in press, makes one wonder is there will ever be true
democracy in Nepal. Though the position in Nepal currently seems to have
improved, one never knows when the next battle might begin.
Last updated: January 22, 2019