Sense of proportion

The press statement read out by Gyanendra Shah on Wednesday, some three hours ahead of his permanent departure from the Narayanhity Royal Palace, has generated comment of various sorts. His valedictory address had, in the main, been a clarification of some of the allegations levelled against him and his family, particularly with respect to the royal massacre and the stashing of money abroad. For several things such as suspicion of the ex-king’s wealth deposits abroad, he should receive the benefit of the doubt, unless anybody uncovers evidence to the contrary. However, the way the carnage was handled had sown doubts in the minds of many, and here, one must admit, serious shortcomings had crept in, irrespective of motive. This issue, along with the role, whatever it has been, of the monarchy in Nepal, should be left to historians.

For the present, the easy and peaceful exit of the monarchy should be appreciated, even though the king had no viable alternative. It is certainly not easy to say goodbye to the power, privilege, and prestige of the 240-year-old Nepali royalty, whether in active or ceremonial role. But the former king and queen tried to take it easy, at least in public, whatever frustration, resentment, repentance, or hindsight might have been gnawing at them inside. It must be recognised, too, albeit paradoxically, that the occupant of Narayanhity, in his more or less graceful acceptance of the people’s verdict, appears to have set a better precedent than the occupant of Baluwatar. But few would agree with the ex-monarch’s defence of all his actions having been wholly inspired by the best of motives. A degree of exaggeration, some sense of dissatisfaction or anger, and a display of other emotions or some bias may be understood in the light of the occasion on which he was speaking.

The monarchy has become a thing of the past. There is no mistaking that it had lost touch with the people to such an extent. Even the temporary use of the Nagarjun palace and provision of some security guards for the ex-king have come under public criticism. From a strategic view of the place, the critics may have a point. But the Nepalis should not become revengeful. Nepal has conveyed several new and positive messages to the world

in its political experimentation; and one of which is the abolition of the monarchy through an election. It is also a novelty worthy of appreciation that the ex-king has decided to stay in Nepal, and has vowed to do his utmost for the sake of the country’s sovereignty, independence, national pride, and territorial integrity. This commitment should

not be questioned. But it might not be appropriate for the Nepalis to act in a niggardly manner in granting the ex-king the privileges and honour fit for an ex-head of state. Though the political parties and the people should be ever vigilant against any conspiracy against the people and democracy from any quarters, they should not, however, conceive at this point that the ex-king will conspire. Let his future actions speak for themselves. In the days to come, perhaps even more vigilance may be required against threats from other quarters.