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The Republic

Prime Minister K.P. Oli has done the country a good turn. He has unwittingly set a moratorium on the republic. By telling his people that he intends to invite the former king he and the prevalent system ousted twelve years ago in order to establish the republic to participate in the republic day arrangements next year – time having lapsed for this year’s event—he has set a time limit as to by when the monarchy should return if it should. Also, by making public his notion that the monarchy in Nepal ended with the royal palace massacre, his dearth of knowledge of constitutionalism and monarchies has not only been revealed, but somehow, given his latter day republicanism, he hints at a level of foreknowledge that demystifies the massacre itself. There is this association between Nepal’s eventual republican foray and the palace massacre that gives the latter a conspiratorial design politically dumped on king Gyanendra to shield the actual beneficiaries. Given that Oli was eventually advantaged too by the sudden Madan Bhandary accident on which his colleague and former leader Radha Krishna Mainali has shed very insinuating light in his autobiographical account, who better than the current prime minister to back such statements with the confidence of foresight?
Of course, the portrayal that everything is plumb and glory in Nepal’s republican decade can only emanate from its champions. But the very budget his finance minister has introduced for this year attests to its actual bankruptcy. The journey has been costly. The costs have to be raised. It is just not the earthquake that befell on the country or the undeclared Indian blockade that was invited that added to the costs. It was in fact also the ‘the crisis period’ invited by republicanism and federalism that is adding to the cost as this year’s budget admits. This is not a period of consolidation; it is a period of ‘management’. Managing the establishment of republican federalism is preoccupying the new fiscal year. Over a decade of republicanism and a decade of the ‘people’s war’ have diverted development funds from investing in growth and we are now in a management mode that deviates from growth by allotting precious funds to manage the republic. Of course, growth prospects are admittedly weak. The burden, again, is on an overburdened population that is now thoroughly exposed to the political exigencies of a republic which has brought Kleptocracy to the individual’s very doorsteps.
By today’s standards, K.P. Oli should be an old hand at managing the republic. He has his two-thirds majority in parliament to boost his credentials. He has the experience of several other prime ministers in his newly united party to back him up. The tattered stage of his opposition in parliament, the Nepali Congress, puts him in an unparalleled position in the past three decades to echo this confidence on the republic. And then there is the laughable position that so called monarchists have put themselves into for Oli to scoff at monarchical remnants. All this notwithstanding though, there is something amiss in Oli’s confidence. He has missed the point on monarchism and constitutionalism. But he has also missed the point of history. A party with larger majority than his two thirds has previously been shunted from power in this country.  Although it took quite some time to dawn on him, even B.P. Koirala did have to eventually admit that his neck had had to shield the monarchy’s.

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