Ultimate test

After granting audience to a number of political figures over the past few days, King Gyanendra has extended this process to a wider circle by inviting the representatives of various walks of life to a lunch at the Gokarna Royal retreat on Monday. This is indeed a good exercise in public relations, giving the King an opportunity to know about the minds of the individuals or the sectors they represent. Most of the invitees received less than a minute. And some of them returned by just greeting the King, and many people, it is reported, were awe-stricken and could not put forward their views “fearlessly.” But the King talked to almost every one of the more than 300 invitees over four hours of the programme, that drew together people from various sectors, including NGOs, legal profession, journalism, entertainment industry, and business. Crown Prince Paras also took time to talk to some of them.

The consultations had been organised to elicit opinions and suggestions from a wider cross-section of society on the current national crisis, but the invitees had not been informed of the purpose of the occasion beforehand. However, some people had gone with a written copy of their suggestions for conflict resolution, even including roap maps to peace. Most of the invitees are reported to have stressed the need to restore peace to the country through a resolution of the Maoist problem and a reconciliation between the palace and the political parties. The King understandably agreed with the need to end the impasse, but “how” was a question he himself is reported to have asked some of the invitees who raised the issue. The King is said to have parted with too little information as to how he wants to go about ending the impasse — with the Maoists as well as with the political parties.

As for the shape of the next government, the King can be supposed not to have made up his mind yet, judging by the way consultations continue. Probably, he may meet the four recognised of the five agitating parties soon and, after that, things might be clear enough. The nearly two weeks of indecision over this matter is likely to end very soon. A little flexibility discerned in the agitating parties of late gives some room to believe that a meeting ground between the King and them is still possible. Whatever be the arrangement for governnance, it has to be sustainable and capable of resolving the pressing issues of peace and democracy. Any solution would certainly have to take into account the prevailing public opinion, Nepal’s geopolitical status and the ground realities, including the state of the Maoist insurgency. The ultimate test of the success of the Royal consultations will, however, have to be judged against the yardstick of their problem-solving capability.