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Monarch to commoner

world Updated: May 28, 2008 01:07 IST

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Not long ago he was revered as a Hindu god, waited upon by thousands of royal palace retainers. His face crowned banknotes and the national anthem hailed him.

Now Nepal’s King Gyanendra is vilified, set to lose his crown and pay his own tax and electricity bills.

A special assembly will convene on Wednesday with the abolition of Nepal’s monarchy on top of its agenda, bringing to an end the 239-year-old Shah dynasty and leaving Gyanendra, 60, to go down in history as the last king of Nepal.

The businessman-turned-monarch has only himself to blame, many say, after an ill-judged power grab in 2005 when he dismissed the government, jailed politicians and

declared a state of emergency. The attempt backfired, and he was forced to back down the following year after weeks of street protests that ultimately sealed his and the monarchy’s fate.

Maoists may claim credit for it, but the spiritually minded can argue that the dethroning of the Shah dynasty was scripted centuries ago. According to legend, Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified Nepal in late 18th century, was granted a blessing by Lord Gorakhnath that he’ll rule the country till his 11th generation. King Gyanendra happens to be Prithvi’s 11th descendant. He became King following the June 2001 massacre in which King Birendra and his family was killed.

Gyanendra spent his last day on the throne closeted with his aides at Narayanhiti Palace. He has been asked to vacate the Narayanhiti palace where his great grand father Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah shifted 124 years ago.