Nepali Times
CK LAL
State Of The State
A king can’t do wrong


CK LAL


Political predictions are like weather forecasts. And when a gathering storm on the horizon becomes too big to ignore, you pray for divine intervention.

Strangely enough, it is die-hard monarchists who are preparing the stage for the rise of republicanism. A hike in the palace budget, a tasteless fancy for luxury cars and a continuing penchant for felicitation ceremonies can all be seen as symptomatic of an institution that seems to crave unnecessary controversy.

In a constitutional monarchy, the crown symbolises sovereignty, unity and integrity of the state. The constitution has burdened the monarch with the additional role of guarding the supreme laws of the land. This requires the king to remain non-partisan. Elected officials are the ones supposed to bear responsibility for every decision taken in the name of the king.

This sovereign immunity for the monarch comes from the maxim that 'the king can do no wrong'. But if the monarch takes up a role in everyday politics and sets off a public debate about whether this role should be 'constructive' or 'active', then he has joined the fray and becomes fair game.

Imagine the public relations masterstroke of a monarch who refused to accept a move by his loyal royals to increase the palace allowances. After all, Rs 110 million wasn't a paltry sum, and from there to Rs 700 million is a hefty hike. Again, imagine if the king had vetoed another budget request to augment the fleet of palace limos, saying that he couldn't make such lavish purchases at a time when the country is in dire straits.

The decision to import three luxury cars, including a Rolls and a Jaguar, worth Rs 142 million isn't just bad timing, it is terribly insensitive in the state we are in. At least the infamous Pajero MPs 10 years ago didn't take cash from the state coffers to buy their obscenely expensive cars. Pomp and ceremony are a part of the royal heritage, but someone should tell the palace advisers when such things turn into a public relations disaster.

Then there is the public felicitation ceremony planned for Nepalganj next Sunday. If the monarchy needs to make friends and influence people such Panchayat-style tamashas won't do the trick.

With all the security bandobast, Nepalganj will resemble a military garrison. There are 300 welcome arches going up and a former justice of the Supreme Court is heading the public reception committee. What an irony that the Nepalganj felicitation to the monarch is being held just as students all over the country concluded public hearings questioning its relevance.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa has been hurling obscenities at all political parties, including his own. His spokesman Kamal Thapa seems to believe in Muckarthyism: the doctrine that if you throw enough mud around it is sure to stick somewhere.

With royalists like these guarding it, the monarchy doesn't need enemies. The king must return to a state where he can do no wrong.


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


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