Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Royal Republic

So let’s get this straight. Former king Gyanendra, in his Democracy Day message, publicly exhorts the political leadership to earnestly fulfill the agreements they had reached with him before he restored parliament in April 2006.
The political establishment is up in arms. But the fists are a little less clenched than they were three years ago, when the former monarch in a television interview first made public the existence of such an agreement.
Now – as then – it fell to Madhav Kumar Nepal, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) leader and the highest ranking opposition leader still alive, to rubbish the ex-king’s claim.
The Maoists and Madhesis, votaries of new Nepal who you’d expect to criticize the ex-monarch, this time turned to the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML for additional clarifications. They regurgitate the line that the monarchy was long dead, but don’t answer the real question.
So Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal president Kamal Thapa – a tentative monarchist – and his Rastriya Prajatantra Party counterpart, Pashupati Shamsher Rana – officially a republican – indicate that such an accord does in fact exist, although they haven’t seen it.  We are given to understand that the agreement was made (written or oral, we don’t know) during the mediation visit of Indian envoy Karan Singh. Shyam Saran, then-Indian Foreign Secretary and immediate-past ambassador to Nepal, supposedly scuttled that deal.
That sheds some extra light on the debate. We still don’t know what the deal was on, but it’s certainly time to move forward because political events have.
But, then, Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Surya Bahadur Thapa organized a “quiet dinner” that was anything but. It supposedly broke the political logjam gripping the promulgation of a republican constitution. Chandra Prakash Mainali, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist-Leninist and a member of the erstwhile Seven Party Alliance, couldn’t stop being curious. He asked the other leaders about the deal. No one, including Madhav Nepal, said a word this time.
Surya Bahadur Thapa’s son is a cabinet member. Although, like Rana, he is a royalist turned republican, Thapa is an invitee at Nirmal Niwas. And we hear he is about to fly into New Delhi for consultations. That comes close on the heels of the visit of Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, who openly advocated a more assertive Indian role to break the Nepali political imbroglio. The Maoist chief ideologue was the first proponent of a cultural king in the aftermath of the April Uprising. He remains the only senior leader to have met the former king (albeit on humanitarian grounds) and made it public.
So what are we to make of Nepal’s 2006 revolution?
Amid the confusion, it occurred to one Nepali scribe to try to pin his ear straight to the horse’s mouth. Karan Singh told him that he would write a tell-all about those developments soon.
And our leaders want us to believe that they will set a new deadline for the constitution that would be sacrosanct?