Notes, Exercises, Videos, Tests and Things to Remember on Reasons for the Rise and Fall of the Panchayati System
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There was a big weakness after the 2007 B.S. proclamation of democracy. It did mark the end of the barbaric Rana regime, but the power of the government was still not distributed among the citizens. They were still not getting any rights that they were entitled. Instead they got another barbaric rule in the form of monarchy, and this was given constitutional support and strengthened.
Constitution was not written from the constituent assembly and the Delhi agreement was not followed. Kings worked to get more power themselves and the public were not a priority. Political parties were also less experienced and immature at that time. As a result, King Mahendra seeked more power to become the most powerful entity in the country. He didn’t believe in democracy since he was a teenager Crown Prince. On the other hand, new constitutional assembly, bad relation between political parties, etc. were the reason for favorable conditions for Panchayati system to rise. The public were less aware and illiteracy was everywhere. Foreign interest and intervention also were increasing, as was corruption and procrastination. In such conditions, King Mahendra hijacked the democratic rule and took power into his own hands on 1st Poush 2017 B.S. and declared a partyless Panchayati system from 22nd Poush 2017 B.S.
Panchayati system was a singular system run from the central power structure, in this case, the King. The orders received from the upper power level had to be followed. The worst aspect of this system was that it was a dictatorship. The system made sure that the citizens didn’t get any human rights, basic rights or freedom.
There were many reasons behind the fall of the Panchayati rule. The government suppressed any form of protests. The people were slowly becoming more aware and literate. The public was angered by this suppression from the Panchayati government. But the people running this system were divided into two factions. One wanted to genuinely help the people, but the other wanted to garner more power. They were more focused on getting more power instead of working for the wellness of the citizens and development of the country. Corruption was rampant in the country.
The various communist factions united as one and formed the United Leftist Front. Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party set aside their different views and together agreed to fight a revolution against the Panchayati system. The result was that the general public was increasing to support political parties. The people's movement was announced from 7th Falgun 2046 B.S. and there were various strikes and protests all around the country. The citizens poured onto the streets disobeying the curfew set by the government. Finally on 26th Chaitra 2046 B.S., King Birendra issued a radio broadcast at 11pm and declared that the Panchayati system was ended and democracy was re-established. The revolution of 2046 B.S. effectively ended the Panchayati rule.
I met and interviewed one of my neighbors who had participated in the students movement of 2036 BS as an eyewitness. I would like to mention his experience, preface of the movement and its effects briefly below.
All the political parties were working underground after king Mahendra imposed ban on them on 1st Poush, 2017 and initiated partyless panchayat system. The students would represent them in national politics without visibly connecting themselves with the party. They would protest against the decision of Pakistani government to execute former leader of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. They wanted to hand over the memorandum to the embassy of Pakistan, but they were stopped by Nepal police. Students kept on protesting against the police administration, too. It pressurized the government to high. The government tried to suppress them but failed. Students demanded referendum, and the government was compelled to announce referendum in 2036 BS. The referendum was held in 2037 for either 'improved panchayat' or multiparty democracy. Improved panchayat won the election by 4 lakhs extra vote. This is how the movement of students had concluded then.
It was mentioned well about the people's right in the constitution but in reality they couldn't be felt by the people. People protested against the activities of government. Understanding the sentiments of people king Birendra held the referendum for the two options: reformed panchyati system or multiparty democracy. The causes to be held the referendum were:
Nepalese people showed their dissatisfaction on panchyati system. The students also opposed the activities of the government. This sentiment of people was clearly understood by the then king Birendra and he held the referendum. The result supported the reformed panchyati system although most of the people didn't like this system. The causes for its success were as follows:
Referendum was held in Nepal on 20 Jestha 2037 B.S because after 2035 B.S. political agitations followed one after the other. Government was so compelled to know whether the people preferred Panchayat System or multiparty system. So, referendum was held.
The panchayat system was undemocratic and leaders were intolerant towards opposition. The leaders devoted themselves not to the development of the country and people but to their personal interests and benefits. Some the people went against it and demanded for a change in the government. Many ups and downs took place in the country. Finally, realizing the gravity of the situation, late king Birendra decided on Jestha 18, 2036 to hold a referendum in the country. A referendum is a system by which an issue is decided by popular vote. A referendum was to be helps on the issue whether the people prefer reformed Panchayat system or multi party system. The king's declaration eased the situation and was praised by prominent leaders of the democracy and a step forward towards the restoration of democracy. After 2007 B.S. the referendum was held on Bishakh 20, 2037 B.S. and the result was declared on 1st of Jestha 2037 B.S. The reformed Panchayat system was won by a thin majority. The supporters of the multiparty system blamed the government of rigging.
2031 B.S. is notable for the coronation ceremony of late king Birendra. This day can also be taken as the one which paved the way for democratic system that he was inclined to. At lot of foreign dignitaries attended his coronation and king Birendra proposed Nepal to be a "Zone of peace" to which many peace loving countries gave their support. This is also the day when primary education up to grade III was declared free and Nepal began to celebrate Education Day on Falgun 12 every year.