The celebration of King Gyanendra’s 60th birthday on Saturday is fast turning out to be a "do-or-die" battle for the 238-year-old monarchy in Nepal. With criticism mounting on the controversial monarch’s birthday, the "royalists" and organisers of the bash claimed that they do not plan to bring any change in their schedule despite protests planned by political organisations.
"We will gather in Tundikhel on Saturday morning and peacefully march to the Narayanhity Palace to greet the King," Durga Pokharel, a former minister and "royalist", said.
Youth organisations of eight political parties have asked the government to forbid the palace from hosting a public reception and decided to hold demonstrations in downtown Kathmandu on Saturday.
The gates of Narayanhity Palace will be kept open on Saturday to allow people to greet the King. Pokharel said that there was no reason for anyone to be angry over their plan to greet the King on his 60th birthday. "We are not trying to advocate autocratic monarchy, but we believe that for Nepal, the institution of monarchy is essential," she said.
King Gyanendra, meanwhile, has appealed to the Nepalese government to provide adequate security around Narayanhity Palace on Saturday and Sunday. A spokesman for Nepal’s Home Ministry Bamon Prasad Neupane confirmed that the "royal request" was being considered.
In a related development, Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of Communist Party of Nepal (UML), said political parties that support the monarchy would receive a drubbing at the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls. However, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress is in favour of a ceremonial monarchy.