Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Hands-On Crown Prince

It’s not for nothing Crown Prince Paras is called a hands-on man.
When your limbs can do far more than your language, an optimization of resources becomes a rational choice.
Through a swing of the golf club in the company of the U.S. ambassador a couple of months ago, he managed to create a diplomatic fracas at the State Department.
Before the latest display of his dexterity, the crown prince, according to anti-palace websites, drove to Police Headquarters December 3 to seek an explanation from the inspector-general on events of the previous day. The inspectors-general of the armed police force and the intelligence department were summoned.
“How could you allow the commies to stone my motorcade? I could have died. Do you think I’m going to let this lapse go unpunished just because my aunt kept quiet after a similar attack 15 years ago?” Variations of the preceding sentences were quickly attributed to the crown prince.
Before the three men could start explaining the lapse, they received stinging royal slaps.

Stars And Style
Crown Prince Paras has established himself as the most controversial royal since King Rana Bahadur Shah. (Many prefer to draw parallels with King Surendra, who gave Jang Bahadur the commoner a pretty hard time). But he has an uncanny way of surviving scandals.
It seems rahu and shani are in constant battle on birth chart, evening out their effects in weird ways.
Five years ago, when the capital saw thousands of protesters demanding that he be stripped of his royal privileges, Maila Baje felt sorry for the prince.
True, royal recklessness on the driver’s seat deprived the nation of an outstanding musician. To many, the prince’s pattern of indiscretion had started becoming unbearable. The verdict in the court of public opinion was understandable. In fairness, though, the blood alcohol level and driving record of the musician should have been part of the story.
Who could have imagined then that Paras would not only retain his title but a few months later go on to assume direct succession to the throne?
With motive, opportunity and means so clearly evident, the prince must have been complicit in the Narayanhity massacre. The fact that he emerged without a scratch was too hard to hard to reconcile with the gory details of what had occurred inside Tribhuvan Sadan.
For those unfamiliar with the prince’s habitual bodily motions and involuntary grins, the televised images from Arya Ghat were too compelling not to be incriminating. Even the new king broke with tradition and waited four months to proclaim Paras the heir apparent.
Crown Prince Paras was so upset by the sustained national discourse about him that he eventually became a poet. “I must disbelieve what I saw and trust what I hear.” It used to take something akin to unrequited love to bring out such feelings.

Regalia And Reticence
Crown Princess Himani’s grace and the arrival of Nava Yubaraj Hridayendra were expected to help Paras build a new persona. Even that moustache had started acquiring a degree of regalia. But, no, the prince’s wrath continued to manifest itself in different ways.
The Nepalese media – which has had little hesitation till this day in recounting how fond King Gyanendra was two decades ago of appraising ancient idols – was reticent about reporting the crown prince’s latest escapade.
Had the latest media ordinance finally begun to show its effect? Or were reporters reminded of how a colleague ended up drenching a couple of towels red after having infuriated the crown prince?

Stepping Into His Shoes
How would things look from the crown prince’s perspective? Here was a man who felt he had discharged his duty as chairman of the council of royal representatives for three tumultuous weeks with great élan.
Unnatural or not, the Maoist-mainstream accord had enough firepower to inflame anyone within a kilometer of Narayanhity’s outer perimeter. Maintaining a studious silence must have required great patience on the part of Crown Prince Paras. An hour before that arduous responsibility was to have ended, his motorcade was attacked.
A little history must have set in, too. What did the royal lassitude following the stoning of the motorcade of Queen Aishwarya and Crown Prince Dipendra at Pashupati in 1990 do? It emboldened many ex-panchas to hound the palace. Clearly, Crown Prince Paras was in no mood to allow history to repeat itself under his watch.
Can our Comeback Kid come back this time? (The premise here is that the crown prince is guilty until proven innocent. By now, the man himself must have stopped expecting the normal standards of justice to apply.) Maila Baje isn’t optimistic – but for a different reason.
Since the SAARC summit, King Gyanendra has raised the political stakes to a dangerous level. Indeed, Nepal may have lost the ability to control events. What if the protests against autocracy take stridently anti-Chinese overtones over the next few days? UML chief Madhav Kumar Nepal has already fired the first salvos. His followers just need a nod from the top comrade and his mentors across the southern border to wreak ultimate devastation.

Revelation And Contemplation
Some astrologers caution against underestimating the broader planetary position on the crown prince’s kundali. A few are more impressed by his son’s. One says a King Paras would have a long and prosperous reign and reveal what really happened on the night of June 1, 2001 before renouncing the throne in a quest for spiritual contemplation.
What kind of nut would make such a prediction, you may ask. Who believed the sage who said Crown Prince Dipendra would never become king but the monarchy would survive? Technically, at least, that prophesy remains fulfilled. Dipendra didn’t know he had been crowned.