18 June 2019: All the confidence the two-thirds majority government of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had been exuding until recently has been destroyed by a more powerful entity that is the Nepalese public. As such, the government announced today that the divisive Guthi Bill would be withdrawn from the parliament.
The Oli government had been adamant as recently as yesterday that the Bill would run its course through the parliament come what may. The controversial bill, which was with the Upper House of the Nepalese parliament, has now been withdrawn, government minister Padma Kumari Aryal said in a statement earlier today.
According to a press release signed by the minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, the Oli government decided to withdraw the Bill because it was used to “incite” the public and “disrupt environment”.
However, it is evident that the government’s decision was no doubt necessitated by the swelling protest rallies held in the capital city. The principal target group of the Guthi Bill would have been the socio-economic institutions called Guthis that are part and parcel of the rich culture and history of the Newari people, the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley.
If the bill were to become a law then the traditional entities, both private and public Guthis, would have been nationalised.
Kathmandu’s Newari community viewed the bill as a draconian tool aimed at hurting their religious and cultural fabric.
The government felt the pressure from the fact that the protest against the bill was not merely by the Newari people only. It became a full-blown mainstream protest programme participated even by members of the Nepalese muslim community.