Hoping against hope

The Constituent Assembly is scheduled to execute, on May 28, the declaration that Nepal is a republic — already made by the Interim Legislature-Parliament and incorporated into the Interim Constitution. The top political leaders, including those of the three biggest parties — the CPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML — have made it clear that nobody can now stop the execution of the people’s mandate expressed so resoundingly in the recent polls - by electing the parties carrying the republican agenda to almost all the CA seats. One notable feature of this election has been that the pro-monarchical parties that had contested the election had drawn a blank under direct election, and they have been able to send members to the CA only through proportional representation in such numbers as can be counted on one’s fingers in a 601-member assembly. The other pro-monarchical parties dared not seek votes on the plank of any form of monarchy. Besides, most leaders of the NC and the CPN-UML with royalist inclinations lost the election.

But doubts are still expressed in some quarters whether the first CA meeting can carry out the declaration, or whether the King will leave the Narayanhity Royal Palace obediently; some even suspect that he may be playing some effective card close to his chest. Some people, particularly those in favour of the kingship, are trying to create the public impression that the King looks fully confident and unconcerned about the forthcoming CA decision, as, for instance, Kamal Thapa, president of the RPP-Nepal, a royalist party, told the media the other day after meeting Maoist chairman Prachanda as a royal messenger. He had sought delay in the republic implementation till the promulgation of the new constitution, warning of ‘disaster’ otherwise. But other reports and the Royal family members’ countenance and bearing, as recently witnessed at Dakshinkali, where he offered a sacrifice of five animals, tell the opposite story.

It is not unnatural at all from the King’s perspective to choose to wait till the last on the off chance of saving his throne. The request for deferring the republic implementation betrays an intention of buying time, in case the domestic and international factors might turn favourable. But as the King has been told to vacate the palace till May 28, as Maoist chairman Prachanda has said, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. It is not difficult to understand the King’s perplexity against the approaching abolition of the two-and-a- half-century-old royal dynasty, at a time when we are witnessing a kind of defiance of the people’s mandate by the leadership of the interim government by refusing to resign despite the party’s defeat at the polls — against international practice, something which even Panchayat-day heads of government had respected - on morality grounds, as well as to pave the way for the formation of a new government. No political party is now in a position to do otherwise regarding the monarchy than the people’s fresh mandate. Nor can the King go against the sovereign people’s will, because non-compliance would make things more difficult for him.