Former king’s comeback desire creates fresh storm in Nepal
Utpal Parashar, KATHMANDU (HT): Four years after leaving Narayanhiti Palace to become a commoner, Nepal’s former king Gyanendra Shah has kicked up a storm by expressing his desire to stage a comeback. In an interview with a Nepali television channel aired on Sunday night, the 66-year-old expressed desire to play a “guardian’s role” to resolve the present political and constitutional crisis.The former monarch also ‘disclosed’ that during his written communications with political parties prior to dissolution of monarchy in 2008, they had assured about its continuation.
“There was no agreement on abolition of monarchy. I have no idea where it came from,” he said.
Following failure of political parties to deliver a new constitution, there’s growing discontent among Nepalis and some pro-monarchy parties are suggesting reinstatement of monarchy.
Shah seems to be using the present uncertainty to return to the centre stage.
“You are asking the wrong person as I am a party and can’t give an objective answer. It would be better to ask the public,” he said while replying to a query on restoration of monarchy.
He, however, expressed objection on a referendum to decide the issue.
Shah, who has been making religious tours across the country to connect with the masses and celebrated his birthday publicly on Saturday, also took a dig at political players.
“People want a way out of the present impasse. The writing on the wall is clear and political parties should understand this,” he said.
The comments have led to criticism from several quarters.
On Monday, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai threatened to take away all privileges accorded to Shah if he continued to give statements on the monarchy’s return.
“I clearly warn the former king to desist from making such statements. Or else the minimum benefits given to him could be withdrawn,” he said.
Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) Jhalanath Khanal accused him of trying to fish in troubled waters.
Leaders from Nepali Congress and CPN (UNL) rubbished Shah’s claim about agreement on continuation of monarchy and stated there was a deal only on his security and stay at Nagarjun Palace.
The ‘Republica’ in its Monday editorial urged Shah “give up his futile attempt” at reinstatement of monarchy and “mend his errant ways”.
“A divisive figure, no matter how highborn, deserves little honour and even less sympathy,” commented eminent journalist CK Lal in his column.
Shah, who became king after the 2001 royal palace massacre, was forced to relinquish power following mass opposition to his 2005 military coup where he assumed complete control by removing the elected government.