Royal Challenge to Democracy

Posted on December 10th, 2007 by UWB

The last (and suspended) king of Nepal isn’t just hibernating. He is playing games against democracy from inside the palace. An editorial from the Kathmandu Post

So King Gyanendra is not only swigging drinks and taking dips in the “heated” swimming pool waiting for the day when he will be ousted from the royal palace. Last week’s political developments have proved that the king has been quite busy rallying pro-monarchists in all the parties under the pretext of nationalism. It seems he has become quite successful in swinging Nepal’s fluid politics from one extreme to another. First it was Prachanda who said that people supporting the monarchy were also nationalists, and that they should also be taken into confidence. His party cadres are now busy defending his stance, but they have not been able to convince the people why they were attacking royalists throughout the 10-year insurgency if they were nationalists. The press and democratic groups have not spared Prachanda and the Maoists in criticizing them, and a group of senior Nepali Congress leaders has shown one-upmanship by speaking in favor of the monarchy. It seems the monarchy in Nepal is not yet a spent force.

History tells us that the Nepali Congress is the only party that has been trying hard to keep the monarchy to its size and establishing a true democratic political system. The leftists have never been reliable on this issue. During the 1980 referendum, the communists played a crucial role in defeating the multiparty system in favor of the partyless Panchayat. In 2007, the force that waged an armed struggle for over 10 years with the loss of over 14,000 lives in the name of establishing a republic has also shown its true colors. Interestingly, the NC is also not well shielded from royal infiltrations into the party. The royal palace has always stolen NC leaders or created factions within the party. King Mahendra successfully won over a number of NC bigwigs when he staged a coup in December 1960. King Birendra followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1994 played a major role in dividing the party into two groups of 36 and 74 parliamentarians, which led to the mid-term polls and the consequent political crisis.

It has hardly been a couple of months that the Nepali Congress became united, and a strong fissure has already emerged within the party in the name of a pro-monarchy group. What these leaders have been saying openly is convincing many within the party and also the public. They have been saying that the Maoists should be checked and cut down to size. But the extension of their opinion is that in order to control the Maoists, the king should be taken into confidence. The Post despises both ideas. We believe in establishing democracy through people power – neither by appeasing the monarchy nor by giving undue credit to the Maoists. The NC should not compromise on its stand in support of elections and multiparty democracy. If it takes a single step towards any extremist force, we will not be able to achieve the democracy that the people fought for in 1990 and in 2006. Let us see how it deals with the newly emerged royal challenge. (source)