THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING
Prince Paras as President of the Republic of Nepal?
By Manuwant Choudhary
Even Global Nepalese now wish each other with a `Laal Salaam' and the Maoists claim their victory in the recent Constituent Assembly elections as proof that they alone have brought an end to centuries old monarchy in Nepal and so their leader `Prachanda', which means the `fierce one' needs to move into the Narayanhity palace within a month if not days as Nepal's first President.
But Prachanda and the Maoists claims are misleading.
When we were children and there was no television and no electricity either most in rural India spent time telling and listening to stories. And often as children we would come up with who can tell the shortest story in the world. One story that was popular was `Ek tha raja, ek thee ranee, donon mar gaye, khatm kahani." (Once there was a king and Queen. They both died. End of Story."
We never thought this story could ever be real until the royal massacre in Kathmandu some years ago in which Nepal's monarch King Birendra and his entire family were killed but that still remains a mystery.
A mystery also because of the suspect role of Nepal's politicians. Instead of initiating criminal proceedings and punishing the culprits and even abolition of the monarchy they allowed King Gyanendra to ascend the throne and move into King Birendra's palace (even though he has his own palace just nearby).
The official version of events was that Prince Dipender himself killed his family members and himself since his family opposed his love affair with Devyani Rana.
At the time politicians gave the alibi that royal members are `Godly' and that even a criminal inquiry against them is impossbile.
A few years later its the same politicians in Nepal who then allied with the Maoists and formed a seven party alliance against Gyanendra and talk about the abolition of the monarchy.
Officially and unofficially most in Nepal admit the one person who is responsible for the end of monarchy it is Nepal's crown prince Paras.
So shouldn't Paras and not Prachanda become the first President of the Republic of Nepal?
Logically, even if Gyanendra had no role in the royal massacre but there were `only suspicions' on him and on his family members, Gyanendra had one and only one option to save the monarchy from being abolished.
Gyanendra should have announced that he himself would not become King and that Paras also will not become King but for the sake of the survival of the institution of monarchy Paras's son should become King when he turns 18.
This is something the people of Nepal would have accepted and this is what would have been in the best interests of Nepal.
Who should be President of Nepal? If it comes to who has killed more people then Prachanda wins.
A few years ago I had gone to Kathmandu to cover a peace talk between the Maoists and the King's government for New Delhi Television. On the morning of the talks when I arrived in Kathmandu I made my routine calls only to be told that the Maoists had fled to the jungles.
I tried getting appointments with all including the Maoists with no luck. Its only when Nepal's former Prime Minister the sacked Sher Bahadur Deuba talked to me that even the Maoists sent feelers and gave an appointment.
I was led to an undisclosed location in the by-lanes of Kathmandu where I met the Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara. He spoke about everything including his resolute faith in the gun. "If we did not have an army do you think the King's government would agree to talk to us? We are talking peace but we will not give up our army. We will do this...we will do that...."
He stopped only when I calmly told him, "Your people are suffering. In ten minutes I will be leaving Kathmandu. Nepal is your country."
His last words then, "No,no,no, yes we want peace."
I do not know whether a foreign Indian journalist's plea to the the leaders in Nepal makes any difference especially when the general mood in Nepal has been anti-India for decades but on the streets of Nepal at that time an ordinary Nepalese in his traditional attire and cap came up to me and hugged me and with such joy he told passersby "Look he is an Indian. Our friend."