| Pro-democracy activists at a rally in Kathmandu on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Kathmandu, April 25: The crowds celebrating the capitulation of King Gyanendra’s unfettered rule are in a retributive mood. Tens of thousands of them poured into the streets of the Nepalese capital not only demanding a republic but also baying for the monarch’s blood.
The republican sentiment in the street was palpable. The people chanted “Shahid ko ragat ke bhancha' Gantantra. Gantantra (Blood of the martyrs is crying out ' A republic. A republic)” and “Nepali janta ke bhancha. Gantantra. Gantantra.”
They warned their leaders not to forget their agreement with the Maoists ' “Netaharu savdhan. 12-boonde yaadgar (Leaders be careful. Remember the 12-point agreement).” Others carried huge banners urging the leaders not to repeat their mistakes and advised them to solve the Maoist problem and not accept any salary in the reinstated Parliament.
Wherever one went, people could be seen pouring out of the lanes and by-lanes of the Nepalese capital onto the main streets to participate in the “Vijay Utsav”. Kathmandu was a sea of colour ' more red than the mixed colours of the non-communist party flags.
The cry of “Gyane Paras lei phansi de, phansi de (Hang Gyanendra and Paras)” or variations of it (“Hatyaro lei phansi de, phansi de”) rent the air.
Even the king’s notorious home minister, Kamal Thapa, was not spared as people wanted him also to be strung up. Rumours were that he had given his security detail the slip and had gone into hiding.
As the processions poured into Khula Manch in the city centre next to Ratna Park, one could see that the big signboards displaying profound utterances by the king had been defaced and overwritten with a simple but chilling slogan ' “Gyane hatyaro” (Gyanendra murderer).
The processions were shouting: “Desh chhodalas Gyanendra. Hisab-kitab baaki cha (Don’t leave the country Gyanendra. We still have scores to settle).”
This reporter saw a two-km-long procession where people had walked nearly 20 km from Bhaktapur in the adjoining district of Kathmandu to come to Kalanki Chowk on the Ring Road where people had died in police firing during the movement.
The political parties had converted the protest rallies planned for today into victory rallies and quite wisely directed people to move from the city outwards ' to the Ring Road. If the direction had been reversed, there might have been looting and violence.
However, some processions did manage to come towards Ratna Park in the city. They wanted their leaders to address them ' but the big victory rally is planned for Thursday. In the event some of the leaders did turn up to calm the public.
There were two kinds of people in the processions ' those who were celebrating victory and those who gave the impression that they had been cheated. The body language of those celebrating was relaxed and they only shouted about “loktantra” or “gantantra” and remembering the martyrs of the people’s movement.
The others, much younger and carrying red flags, seemed tense ' perhaps about a battle half won. They shouted sharper slogans ' “Sansadvadi dhoka ho, dhoka ho (Those for parliament are cheats).” They were significant in number, sang songs and danced. They were often from outside Kathmandu valley.
It was clear the Maoists, having participated in the people’s movement, could not be relegated to the shadows, even if the parties so wanted. As their slogans and energy indicated, they would have to be given open political legitimacy.
The Maoist supporters who participated in the street demonstrations already seem to be asking: What is in it for us' Perhaps a ceasefire followed by a dialogue and a Constituent Assembly may just satisfy them that things were moving in the right direction.