Pangs of adjustment

Some people are still wondering why deposed king Gyanendra Shah has accepted the Constituent Assembly verdict so easily. It will be naïve to believe that he did not try to do everything practically possible in an attempt to reverse his sinking fortunes, including knocking on the door of everybody at home and abroad thought to be able do something for him. But things had turned too unfavourable for him. Otherwise his strong supporters till the other day would not have stood as passive spectators to what was unfolding against the monarchy. Nor would the diehard members of the royalist parties have voted for republic when the CA convened for its first sitting to decide on the monarchy’s fate. Just four members of one of the tiny pro-monarchical parties had voted against the republican proposal. But this week, even that party announced that it had decided to embrace the new change.

The ex-king’s compliance, therefore, may well be said to be a case of making a virtue of necessity. But even that should be taken in a positive light. In the days ahead, to build a New Nepal, all Nepalis will have to unite to consolidate peace and democracy and to contribute to prosperity, the rule of law, and equity, and above all, to keep intact the country’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. For this, everybody needs to shed past enmities and feelings of vendetta. It is perfectly natural for a king just made a commoner and his family to expect some of their sensibilities to be addressed. They need time to make psychological and other adjustments to be able to live a life in a completely new role comfortably, with all their privileges, their immunity, their powers, and even some of their wealth, gone.

Nepal has conveyed several new messages to the world through its experimentation in political change. One of this is how a country can make a peaceful transition through election from a kingship to a republic. So, yesterday’s Cabinet decision - to allow the ex-king and his family to use the Nagarjun palace temporarily for residence after the Narayanhity palace is vacated and to provide him with a certain amount of security — is a good gesture shown on normal humanitarian and practical grounds. Such an accommodative spirit should be shown

in genuine cases. The new powers should strive to make a New Nepal where even the deposed royals and their supporters may feel a sense of belongingness - not of being defeated and despised — and where even they could make a positive contribution to the onward march of society, all the more so when it comes to questions of vital national interest.

The ex-monarch’s decision to stay in Nepal is also something that has not often happened elsewhere after dethronement. The political parties’ approach to the ex-monarch has been tolerant and understanding. For instance, Maoist chairman Prachanda told a Japanese newspaper on Friday that the ex-king could now do business or even enter politics as a commoner. However, the kind of role the ex-king and his family members play in Republican Nepal as a citizen will determine whether they can regain some of their lost prestige among the Nepalis.