Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A plot to uphold monarchy

The issue of Congress unification has ignited political debates since Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's proclamation from his home town Biratnagar.

He has assured some of his party cadres that the Nepali Congress will be unified by Dashain festival. He has also shown his "intended" generosity to provide adequate room to all and even declared readiness to abandon party presidency.

There is, however, sufficient ground to doubt on 'noble' cause for Koirala's call for the Congress unification. The primary intention whirls around the question: Why is octogenarian leader Koirala, who ever wanted to be in power and negated the decent voices, calling for immediate unification?

Koirala's close aides doubt that it is not just his noble wish to unite both the Congress parties and make it the largest democratic force in the country, but he has hidden agenda. Political thinker and Nepali Congress (Democratic) leader Pradip Giri also raised his concern and wrote on a daily that the two Congress parties should be unified not to uphold the institution of monarchy but to address people's aspirations for peace and prosperity.

It has become evident now that Koirala didn't become prime minister alone by the support of popular uprising. He had a political dealing of give-and- take with the king before the latter surrendered the state authority back to the people. Koirala seems to have succeeded in convincing King Gyanendra for a ceremonial role and in return he assumed power.

This has been reflected on repeated appeals for ceremonial monarchy and subsequent appointments of former chief of Armed Police Force Sahabir Thapa and suspended former police chief Shyam Bhakta Thapa to the posts of security advisors and diehard royalist Rukmangat Katwal to the post of Chief of Army Staff. The trio had vehemently suppressed the democratic movement no matter how Koirala justifies their appointments now.

Although Koriala made attempts to correct his statement that his attitude was applicable till the constituent assembly polls and the people will decide the fate of the monarchy, he still wants his party to uphold the "role of ceremonial monarchy". The government activities, especially regarding army and the monarchy and Prime Minister Koirala's meeting with the king before appointing Katwal, still exhibit that palace continues to remain as a decisive force behind the curtain in the Nepali politics.

Delays on implementing the interim constitution and one point repeated call for Maoists' disarmament also leave enough ground for doubt. The assessment of people's responses to his call for the ceremonial monarchy indicates that for Koriala it will not be as easy as he thinks to create room for the king since the people have begun to disregard Koirala and the king. He also knows that a faction within his own party leadership and cadres favors a republic Nepal.

For this, Koirala needs a powerful support which could be nothing less than the uniting two Congress parties. Koirala is well aware that there is an anti-king faction within his Congress and a pro-king force in Deuba's Congress which favors ceremonial monarchy. A faction in the party thinks Koirala's voice as divine as king's so they must follow whatever Koirala dictates. And Koirala is assured of this faction because if united, it would be the most powerful political force of this country.

In a television program, Nepali Congress leader Narahari Acharya said that all the party decisions in recent days have not been in favor of President Koirala. The party has made some decisions against Koirala's expectation. Hence, Koirala could not be assured of his party's stance. On the other hand, the Deuba Congress has not made a clear stance on the future status of monarchy yet. Deuba is still awaiting and watching the political move, though he has always been a royalist. But the past experience of Sher Bahadur Deuba shows that he is ready to do anything to assume power.

Deuba dissolved the parliament at midnight, declared himself as the party president and resumed the 'post' of prime minister with an illusion that the regressive move had been corrected. He acted like a baby. He could not even analyze what was going to happen after half an hour. Yet Deuba remains the president of the third largest party in the parliament. And it seems that his call for respectable unification is just the beginning of bargaining.

Unfortunately, Koirala is not finding an appropriate successor from within the family and from the close aides. Ram Chandra Poudel and Narahari Acharya have opted for republicanism. Daughter Sujata and nephews have still not made considerable position in the party, nor has his brother Sushil Koirala done anything remarkable. This might have forced Koirala to look beyond for his successor. And to dictate anything, no one will be better than Deuba.

Upon green signal from Koirala and also from the Palace, Deuba will agree to any condition to assume power after Koirala. Hence, Koirala's call for unification is not free from the doubt that it may be a plot against people's aspirations for a monarchy-free-Nepal. It won't be a wonder if Deuba becomes the president of unified Congress on condition of supporting monarchy by defeating the republican force supposed to be led by Congress General Secretary Ramchandra Poudel.

However, only the Congressmen can make a difference to this plot. And it is inevitable to do so if the Congress wants to sustain as a democratic socialist party in this country. But so long as it backs the institution of monarchy for its survival, it will remain as a political party of some feudal lords which will have no place in the country's politics. The Congress campaign for a republican Nepal led by central member Narahari Acharya could save the party from this plot.

Published-The Kathmandu Post, Sept 11, 2007
Available at - http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=85804

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