Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Monarch, Monarchy And Moral

The eKantipur.com headline screamed out on the screen: “Martyrs' families have no heart for monarchy.” After all the country has gone through, one would have thought such a sentiment was a given.
What impelled Maila Baje to continue was the desire to know how badly these hapless relatives felt the king was really bad for the wellbeing of Nepal and Nepalis. They were killed, after all, by security forces mobilized by the king in his capacity as head of government.
During the 1990 movement, the family of Nirgun Sthapit could at least blame Prime Minister Marich Man Singh Shrestha for their grievous loss. (Niranjan Thapa, the junior home minister in that government was a member of the royal regime. He’s out of the hate list probably because his portfolio was not directly related or responsible for the crackdown.)
By the second paragraph, Maila Baje was stunned by the real story. “Among members of three martyrs' families, two were in favor of a republic while one said monarchy could be granted a ceremonial role. Similarly, among five persons injured during the recent pro-democracy protests, four wanted a "democratic republic" without a king.”
Wasn’t this the equivalent of the relatives of Dharma Bhakta Mathema and Tanka Prasad Acharya rooting for Sree Teen Juddha Sumshere Rana provided he returned the panjapatra to Narayanhity?
How could these people reconcile themselves to the monarchy? The same way the respondents in a recent Himal Khabarpatrika poll came out? Two thirds of those polled, one recalls, blamed King Gyanendra for Nepal’s crisis, while almost half said they believed the country still needed a constitutional monarchy.
If one out of four victims’ families and one out of five injured protesters can draw a distinction between the monarch and the monarchy so soon after their loss, is there a moral or three here?
Can Nepal set an international example in truth and reconciliation?
Can a country gripped by ancient hatreds dating back to King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s national unification campaign really lay down its burdens and move ahead?
Can we even pretend to predict the outcome – vis-à-vis the monarchy – of a constituent assembly election who knows when will be held?