The symbols are powerful. People understand that. That’s why thousands of enthusiastic people today demonstrated throughout the day, a day after the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a republic, demanding that the national flag of Nepal be hoisted at the Narayanhitti palace occupied by former king Gyanendra Shah. Earlier in the morning, at about 8:30 AM, the royal flag, the insignia of the Shah dynasty that ruled Nepal for the past 240 years, was removed apparently by the staffs of the palace. Finally, after hours of protests and attempts by the people to hoist the flag by themselves, the national flag was hoisted in the evening, at about 19:42 PM.
Removing the ‘royal’ flag and putting up the national flag is largely a symbolic gesture in implementing the decision of the CA. There are contradictory views regarding the hoisting of the national flag at Narayanhitti palace. Why, they say, hoist the national flag in a building that has been ordered by the CA to be vacated and be turned into a museum? Hoisting the national flag, again, sends a strong message to the public who want to see the republican order to be implemented, who want to see former king Gyanendra Shah leave the palace before the 15 day deadline give to him by the Assembly. So symbol is a power thing.
Today also saw, for the first time, demonstrators waiving the national flag and chanting the slogans of republicanism and democracy at the same time. Never before the demonstrators, mostly affiliated to political parties, carried the national flag like this. They used to carry the parties’ flags in all demonstrations. The national flag used to be associated mostly to royalists as they used to carry the flag in most of their rallies. Ironic as it may sound, today the revolutionaries and republicans carried the flag and wanted to hoist it right on the palace where former kings and royals used to live (and still live as of this writing). Time has changed indeed.
But that is not to say that the national flag (Chandra ra Surya – Moon and Sun) was shunned by the democrats and republicans including the Maoists. They decided to keep the flag, unique and the most beautiful in the world, even after they threw many old symbols that were related to the royalties.– By DW
Meanwhile, the meeting of the political committee of the cabinet decided today to write letter to former king Gyanendra to evacuate the Narayanhitti palace within the 15-day deadline given by the CA meeting yesterday. The letter will be dispatched by tomorrow morning. “We also decided to form a committee headed by Secretary at the Ministry of General Administration to record the properties and assets of the palace and take them under the government control,” said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Minister for Information and Communication and a senior Maoist leader has been quoted by Nepalnews as saying.