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Reminiscences

Congress stalwart Subarna Shumshere rescinded his armed revolt against king Mahendra’s 1960 ‘coup’ and launched his first ‘national reconciliation’ campaign which saw more political participants into Mahendra’s panchayat system. An outcry among the original grass roots for proper evaluation of workers who felt superseded by the new entrants prompted Mahendra’s ‘back to the village’ campaign as a means of political evaluation and, as is no longer a secret, launched a process of constitutional reforms under the late Surya Prasad Gyawali who was a contributor to the panchayat constitution. King Birendra’s assumption of the throne was begun by the promise of reforms that appears to have been stemmed in shape and scope by the re-launching of armed revolt after B.P. Koirala’s release, Birendra’s coronation and the Indira Gandhi emergency in India and its accompanying developments. How Mahendra’s bottom up approach evolved into one where politics was reversed is better explained in the gradual political reversals of the system witnessed in the failure of the second panchayat constitution amendment, the referendum and, then, the third amendment and the following collapse of the panchayat ultimately. In the ultimate analysis, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai’s favorite repartee that ‘everything would be fixed if that place (the king) was to be fixed’ relaunched the Congress to power and the hard core organization that B.P. had encouraged his brother Girija to build had had to inculcate the communists to bring the 1990 change. Bhattarai’s fate along with that of Ganeshman’s under Girija is self-explanatory as is the dwarfed size of the Congress currently in comparison to the communists.
The erosion of the Congress is explained by the gradual erosion of politics in that organization that accompanied a strong arm approach to politics in a bid to monopolize the total system for organizational gains. The people looked to an alternative which K.P. was unable to provide within the Congress and the Monarchy seeming resisted in its constitutional role leaving the initiative to the Maoists who benefited both ways by the constitutional monarchy’s inability to distance itself from Girija’s strong-arm tactics. In fact the gradual reemergence of politics in King Birendra proved a tempting target for the Maoists as well and it is this from which King Gyanendra suffered. King BIrendra’s growing popularity is commended by his politics which perhaps targeted his abrupt demise. King Gyanendra’s assumption of the throne was simultaneously accompanied by vociferous accusations facilitated by the palace murders. To boot the fissures in the Congress were created simultaneously with Girija accusations of an assertive monarchy—Deuba was ‘Royal Congress’ to Girija much before the King’s actual takeover. Viewed in this light, it should not be surprising that Nepali Congress workers unable to voice disenchantment at chairman B.P.’s abrupt turnaround reversing his previous standpoint that the party chairman and government head should not be the same chose in favor of Mahendra’s coup and may have even prompted it. In actual fact King Gyanendra was deprived of that constitutional provision in the 1990 constitution which rendered him vulnerable and, ultimately, sans throne. Amidst today’s systemic paralysis, the promise of a solution through the 1990 constitution is thus increasingly lucrative.

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