TOPICS : Government under increasing pressures

Yadav Khanal

King Gyanendra’s February 1 move, officially hyped up as intended to restore peace in the country, has clearly proved to be counterproductive. Instead, the country’s political climate is hotting up and, apart from political parties and their strong student affiliates, professional organisations such as the Nepal Bar Association, the University Teachers’ Association and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, too, have taken to the streets for the restoration of democracy. While the leaders of the parties protesting against the King’s move have already descended on the streets, some of the leading luminaries among them, including Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and the intrepid CPN-UML leader Bam Dev Gautam, have been to New Delhi with their objective of apprising the Indian government and the leaders of various parties of the deteriorating situation in Nepali politics triggered by the Feb 1 move.

But the possibility of any rapprochement and reconciliation between the King and the political parties is receding, and leaders like CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal have even started changing their professed pro-monarchy policy and stance. Nepal, for one, has wondered if monarchy does, at all, have its relevance today. This unfavourable view about the monarchy was aired in public for the first time by the student affiliates of different political parties. Student leaders have already raised their anti-monarchy voice. Similiarly, the upcoming activists in various political parties have shown their disenchantment likewise, and their top leaders had hard time restraining them from harbouring any such thoughts. However, Congressmen like Narahari Acharya and Ram Chandra Poudel, who are in detention at present, and Arjun Narsingh KC, who was recently released from custody, have come down heavily, at least, on the monarch, if not on the monarchy itself. Meanwhile, the public utterances of men in power at present have caused the rise in the unpopularity of the incumbent government. Dr. Tulsi Giri, vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers, has earned considerable wrath from the intelligentsia when he overstepped his brief by making objectionable remarks, e.g. about lawyers. Meanwhile, the intention of the government to tame the Press has equally proved counterproductive, with the members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, too, taking to the streets. Likewise, the appointment of some retired army personnel to ambassodorial posts, too, has become a source of considerable criticism of the government. The merciless beatings of pro-democracy protesters have caused much anger among the public. To cap it all, the present government has dismally failed to resolve the Maoist problem, apart from its failures in maintaining day-to-day law and order situation. And, in such circumstances, where is the justification for the incumbent government, with its already unconstitutional character, to continue in office any longer?