Deposed Nepal king’s remarks stir a political hornet’s nest
Remarks by deposed king Gyanendra Shah about rising threats to unity in Nepal has created political ripples, at a time when the government is trying hard to amend and implement the constitution, and hold local elections.
Appearing to exploit the confusing political environment, Gyanendra said on Wednesday that Nepal’s national unity is under attack by so-called progressive, revolutionary and modern elements.
Echoing US president-elect Donald Trump, he called on the “nationalist” forces to save the nation from breaking the social fabric and to make Nepal a great country again.
Relentless efforts are underway to erase and break the social goodwill among the Nepali people living in Himal (mountain), hill and Tarai (southern plains), he said.
The comments are being seen as an attempt by Gyanendra to gain political advantage when no significant progress has been made in meeting the demands of Mahdesis and other ethnic communities, while parties are bargaining over numbers of provinces and federal boundaries.
The cabinet on Thursday discussed the intent and motive of Gyanendra, who recently visited China and met some senior Indian officials in Singapore, apparently seeking blessings for his rise to some kind of political space.
At the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Prachanda reportedly shared some “classified” information about Gyanendra’s visit to China and Singapore. It is not merely a coincidence that Gyanendra visited India and China in recent past, he said. “We should not take these incidents lightly as political achievements like republicanism, secularism, inclusiveness are in serious stake if we keep on wrangling.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi, who is also the home minister, raised the issue of reopening the file of royal massacre of 2001, in which the entire family of late king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, the elder brother of Gyanendra, was killed.
The government at the time had formed a committee led by the then speaker Taranath Ranabhat to investigate the massacre that indicated the involvement of prince Dipendra Shah who was also shot dead. But many people did not believe the outcome of the probe and suspected some others.
Gyanendra was not present at a party organised inside the palace at the time. But his family members sustained minor bullet injuries.
If Gyanendra continues to speak like this, questioning the current political set up, the government should dig out the probe report again and reopen the case, Nidhi said in the cabinet meeting.
Baburam Bhattarai, the former prime minister and senior Maoist leader who is now coordinator of Naya Shakti Nepal, tweeted: “This is a hypocrisy when he talks about nationalists. Gyanendra, who has been seeking blessing of foreign powers, should not talk like this.”
No monarch in the world should get such kind of exception to talk once they are overthrown, he said.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are awash with the statements favouring and opposing Gyanendra’s remarks. Some of them are calling for the present regime to change its course or face the challenge posed by the former king.
Surprisingly, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi , a senior Maoist leader from Prime Minister Prachanda’s party, supported Gyanendra’s statement.
He is a common citizen and he can speak his mind, Rayamajhi said on Thursday at a function in Kathmandu. Everyone can express their view in a democracy, he said.
Some senior leaders of Nepali Congress, the single largest party in Nepal, are reportedly keeping alive the agenda of restoration of Hindu kingdom and revival of monarchy.