Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pressing Hard -- And Soft

Have our opposition leaders softened their stance on the royal regime, or at least some of them within the context of the municipal polls?
Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala signaled such a shift a few weeks ago by offering to hold talks with King Gyanendra if he put off the municipal polls scheduled for Feb. 8.
Koirala hasn't said much on the subject after his partners in the seven-party alliance sought full clarification.
In recent days, UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has been ruling out any kind of talks with the monarch. The perennial prime minister in waiting ostensibly wants us to believe he is speaking for the alliance.
In fact, Nepal believes the "autocratic monarchy" will fall by mid-February. Of course, we don't know whether he is speaking of the imminent demise of just "autocracy" or the entire institution.
All the same, his prediction seems to rest on the widespread convulsion he believes the municipal polls will trigger.
The Maoists have already begun their "climb-the-back-and-hit-the-head" offensive on Kathmandu.
In the view of the top UML comrade, Election Day would provide enough seismic energy to unleash his much-vaunted tsunami.
Nepal's allies-turned-rivals-turned allies Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and Bam Dev Gautam seem to agree with his estimate.
A few rungs below, some opposition leaders have begun replacing stirring threats with fervent pleas in their recent notifications to the palace.
These leaders, mostly belonging to the Nepali Congress and the breakaway (Democratic) faction, are asking King Gyanendra to postpone the municipal polls to prevent further complicating Nepal's crisis.
Maila Baje wonders whether this linguistic transformation could be indicative of those two parties' recognition of the resurgence of the Red threat in the post-12-point-accord weeks.
Implicit in a fervent plea to untie the nation's knots is a readiness to lend a helping hand, isn't it?