BY PREM DHAKAL
The way chairman Gyanendra is responding, by acting to be oblivious, to the people’s movement has cleared all the doubts, if there were any, about the king’s commitment toward the people.
Hearing the people’s pleas and making them hear his opinion has been the mantra of King Gyanendra right from the days he ascended the throne in a rather suspicious fashion.
He was adamant that his elder brother, late King Birendra, was too soft and carefree and indirectly even tried to partly blame the late king, along with the political parties, for the problems that the country was facing.
With his swagger and arrogance, he seemed too eager to show that he was a god-sent messiah to rid the country of its ills, making one wonder if the Royal Massacre, indeed, was a divine intervention.
He never hesitated to slam the political leaders for being corrupt and indifferent to the people and preached moral values like a holy saint every now and then.
He orchestrated sponsored programs to felicitate himself in all the development regions of the country in the name of Felicitation by Citizens, where his sycophants pleaded to him to take executive powers in a way the gods request Lord Vishnu to kill the devils in Puran.
Being a populist king that he projects himself to be, he couldn’t ignore the voice of the masses and eventually took executive powers in his hand. And after trying some handpicked prime ministers – who somehow couldn’t measure up to the high standards – he, being the cleanest of them all, became the chairman of the cabinet of ministers on February 1, 2004 declaring that he would solve all the problems within three years with his divine hand.
Fifteen months on, the country is further mired in violence and his thirst for blood seems unquenchable. Deep inside, he must be aware that the Maoists can’t be eliminated by the use of force. But he, as the head of the cabinet, never reciprocates to the unilateral ceasefire announced time and again by the rebels as if his throne obtained through bloodshed needs human blood as high-octane fuel.
The people who were disillusioned with the politicians remained silent in the beginning, thinking that the situation cannot worsen under the king. But now it has dawned on them that the country is in an abyss and the king is hell bent on exploring its bottom. That knowledge can perhaps explain the people’s apparent indifference toward the Maoist threat in the country becoming a republic, because they know that the country can’t suffer more under any other regime.
Now that the people have become vocal against him and have taken to the streets, the king has found solace in being an ostrich sticking his head in the sand.
Being a Hindu king, he seems to have faith in the supernatural and is attending religious programs in this hour of crises though he and his shameless ministers may shrug it off as yet another simple happening.
He has made Pokhara his base in a desperate hope that the place which unbelievably catapulted him to the throne (remember where he was on that fateful June 19 night) can never desert him.
The king does not have to organize road shows to know the public opinion now. Just sticking his head out of the sand will suffice. And the sooner he heeds the public opinion, the better for him.
Else, the tsunami of movement (borrowing Madhav Kumar Nepal’s words) will wash away the ostrich along with the beach.
For the Seven Part Alliance may go on forever with the slogan of complete democracy, or loktantra as they like to call it, the people will not relent with anything less than republic.