Gathering storm

King Gyanendra is busy visiting districts whereas the political parties and the Maoists are pushing their political agendas with increased vigour in their own separate ways. After the failure of one year of the on-again-off-again movement against regression to have the House of Representatives restored or an acceptable all-party government formed, the five political parties have started a “decisive” movement afresh, vowing not to stop or slow down its momentum just on the basis of any “positive signals.” Political leaders seem to be ruling out any talks with the King amid the government’s attempts “to repress” the movement and the increasing momentum of the movement. Meanwhile, the Maoists have supported the movement, urging the parties not to settle for the “status quo.”

Indeed, the movement shows signs of gathering momentum, unlike the ones launched during the past year. The success of the movement has become a matter of life and death for the parties, apart from settling the crucial question of bringing the derailed constitutional process back on track. Though the parties themselves and others, including representatives of some powerful democratic countries, had been stressing the need for the pro-constitutional forces to come together, the gulf between the palace and the political parties has widened dangerously. No doubt, the major political parties believe in constitutional monarchy, but, unlike in the past, they have even warned that the movement could ultimately go beyond constitutional monarchy if the palace did not correct its October 4 step before time ran out. Even those who had laughed at the size of crowds earlier now appear to be impressed by the size of participation.

On his part, the King has stressed the need to create a congenial environment for initiating the elections “within 2061.” Without addressing the concerns of the Maoists, who hold much of the countryside, any elections worth the name are, however, unlikely. By ignoring the political parties, the very legitimacy of the political process, not to speak of the elections to be held, will be questionable. How can things change for the better by antagonising the parties on the one hand and by failing to address the Maoist issue on the other? This course is bound to add to the complications, making the possibility of any political settlement more remote. It may well go against the long-term interests of even those in power. Admittedly, an all-party government formed on the recommendation of the political parties would not resolve the pressing problems automatically. But it would give at least a legitimacy to any interim government and open the doors for a genuine dialogue with the Maoists, apart from ending the present confrontation between them and the King.