Excerpted from Koirala’s address to a mass gathering organised by the Nepali Congress branch of Saptari on Dec. 27, 2002, collected in the book Simple Convictions
I am telling you something about the incumbent King [Gyanendra]. I am also sharing with you the nature of the four kings that I have experienced. I have been struggling with four generations of kings and have witnessed the vicissitudes over four generations. How does the person who has accumulated the experience of four generations perceive the King following the royal move on Oct. 4?
With the royal proclamation, the incumbent has robbed the people’s fundamental rights achieved through the historic Popular Movement of 1990. He has proclaimed to have acquired sovereignty and state authority, claiming he possesses divine power. He says he is the source of authority. We have called this King’s move regressive and we are agitating against it. From this mass gathering in Rajbiraj, I would like to tell the King – if you don’t correct the royal proclamation and immediately return the people’s rights to people; the result will be very grave, Your Majesty.
My experience with the attitudes of each king – the late kings Tribhuvan, Mahendra, Birendra and incumbent His Majesty – is different.
King Tribhuvan vested all rights to the people. But his son King Mahendra bobbed that and imposed the Panchayat system. The late King Birendra again proclaimed that people are the source of state power. Sovereignty is vested in the people and not him. Again, the late King’s brother and the incumbent His Majesty proclaimed – I have divine power. I am the source of state authority. He has snatched all power saying sovereignty is vested in him.
When I witness these events, I have the impression that the incumbent King has forgotten the aphorism of late King Prithivi Narayan Shah. The wise saying of Prithvi Narayan Shah was that the palace would be strong if people are strong and empowered. The place is feeble if the people are weak. In other words, the palace will never be strong when the King robs the people’s power. Should the people and history not be understood? There were kings all over the world. Now there are only a handful. Why? For what reason did the number of kings shrink? Should our King not take his into account?
Nobody can stop the tide of history. One cannot swim against the current and succeed. All who have tried to swim against the current of history have failed. Monarchies that tried to swim against time have all vanished. That’s why I have been saying that this wishing for the good of the King and His Majesty has to understand this tide of history. We are the sons of the people. People never die. One individual dies, but another is born. But if the King slips once, it is gone forever and that will be the end of monarchy. The kingship will end. When I say the incumbent King has to understand this example, some even say Girija Prasad Koirala opposes the King. But I am not opposing the King. I have said this for the good of the King. The incumbent King is more knowledgeable than me. This is something that His Majesty should understand himself. All I am saying to His Majesty is – I am not tired of shouldering the King. The people are still ready to carry the king on their shoulders. But does the King have any willingness to be carried? If the King does not have a will, I have nothing to say.
I would also like to mention another point at this huge gathering. We Nepalis consider the King the incarnation of Lord Bishnu. We have a tradition of respecting the King. According to our tradition the first son of the king takes to the throne once the king dies. But with the Royal Palace massacre incident, this tradition has ended. The entire family of late King Birendra was wiped out on June 1, 2001. Since that very day, the Nepali tradition in which the son is the heir to the throne has ended. For the first time in history, the younger brother has become the king after his senior brother. Hence, standing before this huge gathering, what I tell you is that the Shah Dynasty tradition of becoming the kings as per the family line, which the Nepalis had been considering as the incarnation of Lord Bishnu, has ended after the killing of King Birendra. Since the palace massacre of June 1, 2001, it is the people who are supreme and themselves are the incarnation of Lord Bishnu.
I must say something to the incumbent His Majesty – he appears to have the notion to keep the monarchy alive as in the ancient times by enslaving the people. The King should not hold this notion in the 21st century. If the King does not take initiatives to address the present constitutional deadlock and the impasse continues, the monarchy will fall into crisis. In the present context, the new King has two options. One is to correct the royal move, reinstate House of Representatives, activate the Constitution and preserve himself within the constitutional monarchy and multi-party democratic system. The other is to keep intact the present constitutional crisis and continue to play foul on the people’s aspirations. If the King does not remain constitutional and continues playing foul on the people’s aspirations, a people’s uprising is sure to sweep the kingship away. There are many examples where monarchies that move against the passage of time have been wiped out.
When I make comments over the King’s move some ask me why I am furious with the King. But it’s not that. I am very serious over the country’s problems. For this reason I seem to be furious with the King. The Maoist problem is the biggest problem of the country. When effort has been made to address this problem, should not the King be criticized when he violates the constitution and dissolves Parliament at midnight? At a time when the country was facing massive destruction owing to Maoist violence, concerted effort was being made to resolve the problem. I had started a broad democratic unity movement to resolve the conflict. The parties in the constitutional front were uniting. Maoists had also responded. We were talking of holding dialogue with the Maoists. Instead of supporting the effort, the King resorted to dissolving Parliament and violating the Constitution. When the King aggravates the problem, is it not natural for Girija Prasad, who has struggled for 60 years in favour of country, people and democracy, to be furious? You be the judge. One thing everybody should understand is that the fury of Girija Prasad against the King is not prejudiced. It is an expression of support of the people and democracy.
Foreigners also ask me what is my issue or contention with the King. I have no dispute with the King. I am a common citizen, a person who dwells in the village. How can an individual have a dispute with the King? This is not my dispute. This is a dispute between the people and the King. I have nothing in person to give and take with the King. The Nepali people are in the struggle of reducing the King’s rights and adding to theirs. They are fighting with the King for their rights. World history is testimony to the fact that people have always won in the fight with the King. People are never defeated. The people are ready to make sacrifices in defense of democracy.
If we all unite, nobody can finish off democracy in Nepal. Democracy can never be finished off.