By Maila Baje
Before embarking on his European excursion, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli gave us something to chew on, something that seems to be gnawing at him with growing ferocity these days. In this day and age, how could there still be ‘fools’ in our midst who want to bring back the monarchy?
The roots of our premier’s bafflement are not new. Oli’s contention that the monarchy kept the country dark, dank and destitute conforms with the prevailing political narrative. The intrinsic worth of an institution in which an individual – regardless of ability or qualification – could inherit the crown as a matter of birthright has been questioned for eons.
It might not be reasonable or fair-minded to equate someone so enamored of honorary academic degrees with shallowness and superficiality. As someone who continued to exhibit sympathy for the ancien regime until very late in the day, Oli may still be contending with unresolved issues within. Still, the prime minister could certainly benefit from some deep diving here.
It would be a gross injustice to history to go along with the conventional wisdom that the people threw out the monarchy in April 2006. For argument’s sake, though, let’s accept the premise. The next logical question would then be why the people would look back to the bad old days with such fond intensity as to cherish its revival. Without the seriousness of the situation, the prime minister wouldn’t be bringing up the issue in a public forum, even if to denigrate its votaries.
Our republican constitution has not relegated the crown to, so to speak, the dustbin of history. Lately, Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Kamal Thapa has been pushing the idea of including the former monarch and Comrade Biplav as part of a round table conference to address the country’s real problems.
From all indications, the Nepali Congress is waiting for the most propitious moment to announce that its abandonment of the monarchy was a grievous self-inflicted wound. In whispers, many communists can be heard wondering whether it was all worth the while.
A united communist party enjoying a two-thirds majority in parliament controlling six out of seven provinces amid a feeble political opposition should be doing things that matter to the people’s daily life. Instead, the prime minister incessantly boasts of the imminence of enchanted trains and ships to the point where the Chinese ambassador – representing the country supposed to be building the tracks, engines and wagons – feels compelled to tamp him down. The Indian ambassador seems have a greater tolerance for our internal inanities. But our premier prefers to go after those who refuse to regale in his tales, oblivious to the disarray his party is in.
Sure, the monarchy spent much time and resources on extracting adoration and indulging in ostentation. An interminable desire to establish the system’s democratic credentials and reckless rush to silence critics alienated the people.
What’s changed, though? At least the people then got roads, bridges, schools, health posts, agriculture centers and industries and a modicum of respect in the comity of nations.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, fools, or played for ones?