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I was betrayed, says Nepal's last king

The 62-year-old, who being a younger son had no hope of ascending the snake throne of Nepal and yet by a twist of fate was crowned twice, only to lead to the abolition of monarchy, says he stepped down in 2006 after a pact with the ruling parties.

world Updated: May 26, 2010 13:03 IST

Two years after he lost his crown and was compelled to leave the palace of his forefathers to begin life as a commoner, Nepal's last king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah has finally ended his silence, saying he was "betrayed".

The 62-year-old, who being a younger son had no hope of ascending the snake throne of Nepal and yet by a twist of fate was crowned twice, only to lead to the abolition of monarchy, says he stepped down in 2006 after a pact with the ruling parties.

However, he says the parties welshed on their pledge and betrayed him.

The disclosure, frequently hinted at after he became a commoner, was made during the deposed king's first full-time interview to a private television station in Nepal.

Gyanendra, who had been given a red-carpet welcome by royalists Sunday when he visited the Terai plains in the south to offer ritualistic worship at a Hindu temple, was forced to spend the night in the town due to bad weather.

During his sojourn, he bared his heart to Image Television which broadcast the interview Tuesday night, throwing light on the reclusive former monarch's new life as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.

In 2005, the king had sought to take advantage of the political chaos in Nepal and seize power through a bloodless, army-backed coup.

But in 2006, he was forced to hand over power after public protests paralysed the country for 19 days.

It had always been hinted that the major parties had offered to save the crown for exchange of the king's capitulation but went back on their word.

"Many people know about that understanding," the former king said. "I leave it to the people of Nepal to judge. I don't have to spell it out."

Gyanendra also denied that he or the unpopularity of his son, former crown prince Paras, was instrumental in the fall of the royal family.

However, he said he was accepting the blame as the head of the family since it was not his nature to pass the buck.

The ousted king, who was once regarded as the only Hindu emperor in the world and an incarnation of god, said over 80 percent of Nepalis were devout Hindus and the abolition of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom was bound to cause unhappiness.

He added that he had no intention of dabbling in politics and his recent forays to Hindu temples were plain religious visits.

"Let's not talk politics," he said. "This is not the right time."

The former king said he was ready to follow the orders of the political parties. "If they tell me to sit in silence, I will do that," he said.

Gyanendra also said he was moved by the love and respect he was still shown by people during his public appearances.

The former king, who was once above law, said he was now living as an ordinary citizen, facing the same hardship all Nepalis did.

The former hunting lodge in the Nagarjuna forest, where he has been living since his ouster from the royal palace in Kathmandu, lacked electricity and water, he said.

In his new life, his day started at 6 a.m. with prayers to the gods. After that, he spent time with his grandchildren.

Lunch at noon was followed by a short rest. In the evening, the former king said he met well-wishers and visitors.

In between, Gyanendra said he passed the time by walking his dog.