28 May 2008, Nepal finally became The Republic of Nepal, bringing an end to the centuries old (240 years to be exact) Kingdom of Nepal.
Monarchy in Nepal is an institution that is deeply rooted into the society, and many people still consider the King to be an incarnation of Lord Bishnu, or have some sort of respect for religious, national or cultural reasons. A king is after all much more than a national leader. Two years back when I was leaving Nepal, I wouldn’t have imagined in the wildest of my dreams that a day like this was right around the corner.
Even though Nepal has had clashes with the monarchy a few times in the last 60 years, this major change is primarily an achievement for the Maoist party who had started an armed Communist war in Nepal since Feb 1996 against Monarchy, the then governments, social injustice and poverty. Over 13000 people have been killed since, during the war and Nepal no more remains the Zone of peace (As of 1991, Nepal had been endorsed as the Zone of peace by more than 110 nations). An election was held last month to elect members of the Constitutional Assembly (which Maoists had won by large), and its first meeting today abolished Monarchy from Nepal.
The process has been a little too unfair on the Royal Dynasty, esp. the way it is abolished without direct voting by people. Hence I take it as a good change done in a haste in a very undemocratic way, and I won’t be surprised if this injustice on the side of the King and his believers will reveal itself in some violent form few years down the lane, and continue to destabilize Nepal every now and then.
In my analysis, there are several reasons how this happened to the King so soon:
1. King Gyanendra had succeeded his brother King Birendra on June 4 2001, after the King Birendra and his whole family (including his Queen, Prince, and all his entire family) was killed in a Palace Massacre. Deep inside, majority of people still view this King as the mastermind behind the whole episode and never really accepted him as the King. He never did an impartial and independent investigation of the massacre.
2. As soon as he was crowned the King, he started provoking the feeling of people by showing his belief in himself, and tyranny through interviews. He was the first King of Nepal to give public interviews to media.
3. When he completely took over the government power sacking the elected government in Feb 2005 (he was kinda growing popular at that time), he did so in a very undemocratic way, cutting off public access to phone, internet, cable television and all forms of media for days.
4. He overestimated his popularity, and remained too inflexible and egoist to come in terms with the major political parties.
5. He stood against Peace talks with the Maoists, and showed no urgency in solving the problem in a peaceful manner.
6. He believed nobody, except the same old royal leaders like Tulasi Giri, Sacchit Shamsher, Kamal Thapa, etc who had already been defamed in front of people for their belief in proactive monarchy. When they convinced the King that the Maoist and Political parties had no public support behind them, the King believed them and continued to go their way till the extreme.
What could the King have done?
1. Right after he had taken complete control over the government in Feb 2005, he should have done peace talks with the Maoists, and let them rule the country in their way, but under some form of Monarchy. This would have been both beneficial for the country and for himself. And looking at the way the Maoists are hungry for power, there is no way they would have rejected the offer then. On another note, he could have given the power back to the political parties, but that would never have solved the Maoist war in Nepal.
All in all, despite being anti-royalist, I am not too sure if this is a good thing for the country at this point esp. with the way people haven’t actually voted for the abolishment of King, the maoists changing colors for power, the ugly politicial parties still there with the same ugly faces, and the racial violence that has been injected in Terai and other parts.
The civil war which the political governments couldn’t solve in 8 years, the King has finally solved it with his 2 years of stupidity, but at the cost of his history and future. Must be a very hard night for the King today! He chewed up and swallowed in 5 years what his grandfathers had weaved in over 200 years in history.
However its good that children from now on can grow-up wanting to be the President of Nepal.