Loaded rhetoric

Two persons perceived exceptionally amiable to the present establishment have made separate statements — one (Yagya Prasad Acharya) has called on the political parties to be ready for a referendum on whether the existing Constitution should continue or a constituent assembly election be held, whereas the other (Sachit SJB Rana, also a former chief of the army) has demanded that the seven parties sho-uld be branded as ‘anti-nationals’ for allegedly colluding with the Maoists and acting according to alien wishes. Both are the palace-appointed standing co-mmittee members of the Rajparishad, an organ wh-ich has the key constitutional role such as of procla-iming a successor to the Throne. As appointed members, both hold their posts at the King’s pleasure.

Going by the Constitution, Rajparishad members are not expected to make political statements, that, too, highly controversial ones. Being the holders of public office and drawing

their salaries and perks from the public purse, they cannot just dismiss their statements as their personal views. As their tenure solely depends on the King’s wish, the general public are likely to construe that their statements have the royal support. Indeed, speaking at the

Reporters’ Club on Saturday, Acharya also claimed that the King was ready for a referendum. But the idea would have carried greater weight, if it had been officially put forward. As for Rana’s statement, it smacks of the Panchayat days when the political parties had been banned and branded as ‘anti-national’ elements, a worse appellation than ‘terrorist’, now slapped on the Maoists. Every political force in the country, including the present government, has been seeking international support for its cause. As for the alliance between the political parties and the Maoists, the former have stressed dialogue, laying down of arms, and bringing

the latter into the national mainstream. An intolerant attitude on the government’s part only strengthens the general impression that it is not interested in restoring democracy by handing over power to the political parties which, as the Constitution unequivocally states, should be the ones to hold State power instead of those who do now. This attitude is bound to aggravate the conflict further.