Nepali Times
All things considered

We have often said in this space, only half-jokingly, that the person most responsible for pushing this country towards a republic is king Gyanendra himself.
Given the paranoia Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his young comrades are displaying about the king and his dark plots, it seems to be the Maoists who are keeping the monarchy alive. At this rate, the comrades may lose their reason for being if the monarchy should cease to exist.

To be sure, the present monarch could very well be up to his old tricks. At his birthday bash last week, he is reported to have dropped broad hints that he is ready to "strike a deal". This could mean he is ready to negotiate using the threat of anarchy as a bargaining chip. Despite public calls to abdicate from his staunchest supporter in the eight party government (Prime Minister Koirala) as well as his erstwhile ally (ex-US ambassador James Moriarty), king Gyanendra still doesn't seem to understand his time is up. The only way to save the monarchy, if at all, is for him and the heir apparent to step aside. But for many people, even that option is just not worth the trouble any more.

In their wisdom, the Nepali people have largely disregarded the republican clamour to scrap the monarchy before the November election and want to leave that decision to their elected representatives in the constituent assembly. In this period, the king can also be impeached by a two-third majority of parliament if there is any indication of mischief. In the run up to the polls, it should be clear that anyone fomenting violence, disorder, and lawlessness is aiding and abetting royal revivalists who don't want an election to an assembly that could vote the monarchy out of business.

It is true that the main political parties warmed their hands in the fires of the madhes this winter and enjoyed watching the Maoists squirm. They also cynically used the troubles as an excuse to postpone elections they weren't ready for. They still aren't ready, but they've run out of pretexts. It is crunch time, and they better get their election machinery cranked up.

There are two challenges to free polls: continued Maoist threats against political parties campaigning in rural constituencies and the violence in the east-central tarai. But the parties can't say "conditions aren't right for polls" anymore. They have to make them right.

Although it is highly unlikely that the parties are going to learn from their past mistakes, one thing they should keep in mind is that this is not a general election. It is a mechanism to let the Nepali people decide the structure of our polity.
All things considered, it is our collective future that is at stake here, not about who wins and becomes minister in the next government.

Related article
. One by one
. "Development is about human being"

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)