Saturday, January 11, 2014

Crowning Touches Of Exasperation

Electoral success has brought obvious exasperation, if not outright awkwardness, for Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) President Kamal Thapa.
While he seems to have averted the downright split precipitated by his ostensibly unilateral selection of candidates for the party’s coveted 24 seats in the newly elected constituent assembly, the denouement is far from discernible.
A deeper reason for the crisis is considered to be Thapa’s perceived post-election dilution of the party’s avowed agenda of restoring the monarchy. The rank and file rightly considers that plank to be the distinguishing feature of the party, and the prime cause of its emergence as the fourth largest force in the assembly.
As the RPP-N plunged into the polls, Thapa, it was rumored, was miffed by former king Gyanendra Shah’s supposedly less than enthusiastic support for the party. By the time campaigning for the November 19 vote ended, Thapa was seen primarily pressing his party’s restoration-of-Hindu-statehood pledge.
After his electoral triumph, when Thapa spoke of his party’s readiness to make compromises in order to ensure the prompt promulgation of the new constitution, it was not hard to connect the dots. Victory, the wizards of smart suggested, had wizened up the man to the verities of the moment.
So when Thapa the other day swung back to reaffirming the RPP-N’s campaign to restore the monarchy – from within the assembly as well as the streets – the commentariat were mildly surprised. The dots, to be sure, had multiplied.
Reports had begun emerging of Shah’s so-called disenchantment with Thapa during the course of conversations the former monarch had during his ongoing visit to India. In one instance, responding to congratulations extended to him on the RPP-N’s strong electoral performance, Shah purportedly chose to dismiss Thapa’s credentials as a royalist or – worse – any other ‘-ist’ excepting that pejorative personality who is on a perpetual search for opportunities for himself.
Maila Baje can’t say whether the ex-king’s reported characterization was an accurate reflection of his sentiments or merely part of a storyline cooked up by the purveyors to stir things up a bit. Or perhaps some source – within the entourage or outside – chancing upon a juicy chunk, sought to peddle it to whoever salivated the most. If, on the other hand, Shah’s expression of indignation was meant for a broader audience back home, it wouldn’t be hard to understand why it would be carefully leaked.
Admittedly, Thapa could not afford to take chances. To many royalists and republicans alike, the RPP-N chief inflicted much damage on himself by hitching onto the Narendra Modi side of the Bharatiya Janata Party wagon. Thapa’s Kavre speech was thus also an acknowledgment that blowing hot and cold on the monarchy would only serve to undermine the political persona he succeeded in building in the midst of much adversity.
Yet the RPP-N – as has been amply emphasized in this space – would be a bit player in any elaborate political effort to restore the monarchy. True, the party has faithfully and admirably kept the issue alive, but it should not overestimate its abilities.
The principal troupers will be the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and their inevitable realization that nothing short of the parameters of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990 would be able to sustain either their political security or Nepal’s geostrategic survival.