Loyal readers of the RCC’s website will no doubt be wondering what has been happening recently in the Kingdom of Nepal. Well, wonder no longer because our man behind the Narayanhity Royal Palace drinks cabinet has managed to convey the disappointing news that it has not been a happy couple of weeks for His Majesty King Gyanendra Shah.
It all started to go wrong for the King last week when the Nepalese government announced it would take action against 40 people, including two dozen ministers of the erstwhile Royal cabinet, for ‘misuse of power and suppressing demonstrations’ held against His Majesty’s takeover of absolute power in February 2005.
Then the news broke that 18 royalists had sustained serious injuries when vicious Maoist thugs attacked a meeting of the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). The assailants used bricks and rods during the attack, and forced RPP leaders to chant slogans in favour of a democratic republic.
In times of trial, the King can at least be confident of a warm reception from religious groups, and so, under cover of darkness, he sneaked out of the Narayanhity Palace to visit the Pashupati Nath Temple to offer ‘puja’ on the occasion of the Hindu Mahashivaratri festival. However, as he was driven in a black bullet-proof Mercedes into the main throughway of the temple, sections of the crowd pelted stones at the vehicle. Security personnel had to use batons to disperse the crowd, and one policeman was injured. The extraordinary scenes even prompted an apology from the government, albeit half-heartedly.
Not a little miffed by this deplorable turn of events, and perhaps following the wise advice of the ever-reliable Royal astrologers, His Majesty then decided two days later to issue a message to the nation on the occasion of Democracy Day, defending his absolute rule. Oh dear.
Democracy Day marks the occasion when King Gyanendra’s grandfather re-asserted his power over the hereditary Rana prime ministers in 1950 following a popular revolt. Although technically the then King Tribhuvan had fled to India with the crown prince and his grandson and returned only after the Rana regime was overthrown, King Gyanendra in his message chose to portray his ancestor as the ‘architect of democracy in Nepal’, and continued: ‘Nepal’s glorious history is guided by the fact that monarchy has always abided by the aspirations of the Nepalese people, on whom sovereignty is vested. It is clear that the prevailing situation compelled us to take the February 1, 2005 step in accordance with the people’s aspiration to reactivate the elected bodies by maintaining law and order.’ The king blamed the inability of then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to hold elections in time.
Predictably the message has created something of a stir. The Speaker of the interim legislature has condemned the message as unconstitutional, while the main Nepali Congress party has described it as ‘objectionable and unauthorised’, warning that it ‘reveals the state of mind of the king and indicates the possibility of another conspiracy that could be hatched’. The Maoists’ reaction has been to beat up more people.
So, another great success for monarchy in Nepal. We can only hope that the forces loyal to the King will gain strength from their sovereign’s words, and that, by some miracle, the people will warm to their legitimate ruler. God save the King. Sigh…..