Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Palace power



The place in Nepal with the heaviest security is still Narayanhiti palace which is guarded by 3,000 soldiers. Before loktantra, they used to be called the Royal Guards. There are even anti-aircraft batteries to deter air attacks. There are more soldiers deployed for security at Nagarjun, Gokarna and Nirmal Niwas.

Palace guards have the army's most modern weapons. The name may have been changed from 'Royal Guard Battalion' to the 'Palace Battalion' but king Gyanendra still remains incharge. The northern gate still has a sign reading 'Royal Guard,' and the soldiers still celebrate the birthdays of the royal family. Queen mother Ratna's birthday was celebrated with a football match between two soldier units.

The government's control over the palace guards is only on paper. The palace still handles all promotions and transfers. The loyalty of the guards lie with the king as was evident at the recent Kumari visit. And it seems no one is ready to comply with the prime minister's orders to cut palace staff by half. Removal of the army from the palace is one of the 22 demands of the Maoists, but some generals maintain that this can happen only after the elections decide on the fate of the monarchy.

Perhaps no one has understood the psychological aspect of this more than the king. With an army at his doorstep, the palace would still be reckoned a powerful force. And it is also a way of knowing where loyalties lie.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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