With the recent unrest in Nepal and the deep anger within its residents towards interference from India has been documented quite well. The fact that India is purported to be supporting Madhesis is something which is highlighted every time. However to put things in perspective, India had also helped Nepal in 1950 in transforming into a truly democratic nation. Nov 6 has a special place in Nepal’s history in this respect as a Monarch had to leave his country to fight for establishing democracy there.
King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah is regarded as Nepal’s ‘father of nation’ for his role in ending the familial Rana rule and establishing democracy in Nepal. He became the king upon the death of his father, King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah, when he was only five years old. The position of king at that time was mainly ceremonial.
The Rana Family
Real power lied with the powerful Rana family, which provided Nepal with its hereditary prime minister. That period is known for the tyranny, economic exploitation and religious persecution. Discontent with Ranas, led numerous movements supported by King Tribhuvan, to overthrow the Ranas. However, the Ranas always responded harshly against these movements. Tensions between the royal family and the Ranas came to a head during World War I. The troops were eventually ordered to go to war with discomfort of the king.
The king comes to India for the sake of democracy
On 6 Nov 1950, King Tribhuvan took refuge at the Indian Embassy in a campaign to remove Rana oligarchy and establish democracy in Nepal. Prime Minister responded to this move by making the three-year-old grandson of King Tribhuvan as the new King of Nepal. On Nov 10, Royal family was flown to New Delhi without the infant King.
The establishment of democracy
King Tribhuvan was formally welcomed by the Indian Prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru who also announced that India was not going to recognize the change in Nepal. The removal of the king led to huge demonstrations in the country. Finally, a deal was stuck in New Delhi between King Tribhuvan, representatives of Nepali Congress and of the Rana Government.
On February 18, 1951, King Tribhuvan returned from India and formally declared an end to Rana’s family rule and established a democratic system.
Aged 48, he died in 1955 in Zürich, Switzerland under mysterious circumstances and was succeeded by his eldest legitimate son Mahendra. The international airport in Kathmandu, Tribhuvan International Airport, the oldest highway in Nepal Tribhuvan Highway.