News analysis: Seven-party front ‘keen’ to avoid friction with King

Kathmandu, October 1:

The remarks by Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala that the King must first restore the status quo ante February 1 are being taken as indicative of a sustained reconciliatory approach. The seven-party alliance spearheaded by the NC and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) is keen to avoid confrontation with the King, even though the demand to reinstate the House of Representatives is not yet shelved.

The claim to this effect comes amid resentment over remarks coming from the octogenarian leader who had demanded status quo ante February 1 after a tea party hosted in honour of the Indian delegation on Wednesday. “By demanding status quo ante, we assume Koirala is keen to open dialogue with the King for total democracy. If Koirala does not mean this, there is nothing in status quo ante February 1 per se,” said Prof Lokraj Baral, a political analyst. However, Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, a newly appointed spokesman of the party, refrained from interpreting Koirala’s remark in the same light as Prof Baral. “It would be misleading to interpret the remarks in one’s own way. But it could be that Koirala wants to tell the monarch to give up the ‘desire to rule’,” Dr Mahat said, adding: “Giving up the desire to rule would solve the problem.”

Speculating on the scenario following the visit of the Indian delegation, Prof Baral claimed that the visit suggested that the alliance does enjoy international support and solidarity.

“Moreover since the members of the delegation are closer to the ruling establishment, what they have said carries a meaning,” Prof Baral claimed. He also added that “in the event the monarch does not act in the right light, Indian support to the alliance may further solidify.”

The King, however, can be said to be having three options — cracking the whip on political parties, playing the civic polls card or yielding to the demand for an all-party government.

While a section of the ruling establishment is believed to be suggesting the first option, a larger section of the political forces, including the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and Rastriya Janshakti Party (RJP), however, are backing the idea of an all-party dispensation which would shape up as a measure of reconciliation.