KATHMANDU: With peace and stability eluding Nepal even a month after the formation of a new government and the dogged opposition by the Maoist
party delaying the writing of a new composition, all eyes are now on former king Gyanendra after a tabloid reported that he would break his long silence next month.
On July 7, when the last king of Nepal celebrates his 62nd birthday as a commoner, he would be indicating his views on the turmoil that continues to plague the country even three years after the fall of his army-backed government, Nepali weekly Ghatana R Bichar said.
Quoting unnamed palace sources, the weekly said that a committee has been formed under the former Nepal ambassador to Thailand, Khilendra Prasad Pandey, to mark the birthday with pomp, which will include offering special at Nepal’s famed temples. The committee also has a slogan: Save nationalism and democracy, restore monarchy.”
Last month, the only royalist party in parliament, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-Nepal), kicked off a campaign for a referendum on monarchy.
“The election in 2008 was held to write a new constitution, not to take decisions on issues of national importance like monarchy and state ,” RPP-Nepal’s leader and former mayor of Kathmandu Rajaram Shrestha told TNN.
“Most people in Nepal still regard the crown as the factor unifying a nation with so many diverse cultures. We are proposing a referendum to decide if Nepal should have a king and Hinduism as the state religion. All citizens above 18 should be allowed to take part. Only that will be the authentic national stand on monarchy and secularism. Otherwise, conflict will persist even after a new statute is promulgated.”
The RPP-Nepal and other royalist groups will have to act now since the new constitution is to be in place by May 2010.
The former king, whose long visit to India in February-March, was regarded by the Maoists as a ploy to enlist the help of the Indian government for having his grandson Hridayendra declared the baby king of Nepal, has remained silent since an unseemly tussle between the Maoists and the priests of the hallowed Pashupatinath temple.
After the former rebels tried to end the tradition of employing Indian priests at the shrine, the former king made an exhortation to keep the revered temple above dispute. But since then, there has been no more public statement from him. Though his son, the unpopular former crown prince Paras, said during his sojourn in Singapore that he would launch his own party, nothing more has been heard about his political plans as well.