Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
"We are the people."

Bamdev Gautam, CPN UML standing committee member, in Kantipur, 12 October

This is not the first time I received tika from the king. It should not be something that needs to be debated. This is not against the political agitation. This is something I've done ever since I became a minister. Since my childhood, respected seniors would put tika for me. I put tika for others too. Dasai is a Nepali cultural festival that is not limited to certain castes and tribes, or even to Hindus exclusively.

I have not committed any crime by receiving tika from the king. As usual, he asked me how I was and I replied that I was fine. We obviously could not discuss national issues in half a minute. As long as we accept the king as the head of the state, there is nothing wrong with receiving tika from him.

Sometimes I ignore the party's actions. No one from the party has contacted me as yet. If the king is accepted as head of the state, what logic is there in arguing that you must not take tika from him? Are we saying that we do not need the king? While it is true that there is a movement against his regressive move, it aims at reaching an agreement. Our fight is not for a republic neither are we moving towards discarding the monarchy.

If the movement is about bringing the king back on the constitutional track, then we must think of ways of reaching an understanding. The Dasai tika has helped root out bitter feelings, which is why I believe the tika I received will help our movement. Leaders from all the political parties should have done so too. Maybe we would have better results. Remember, it was ping-pong diplomacy that brought the US and China closer.

The good news is that we have created awareness among our political workers about regression. Even the people comprehend it better now. The parties have been able to foil the efforts of the king and the Maoists to isolate and eliminate our existence. The reinstatement of the parliament was initially only the Nepali Congress' demand. Later, all five political parties adopted it, which is why the UML began to demand reinstatement.

I have been against the idea from the start, although I would be happy to see our general secretary become prime minister. Should the king give someone else the post, we will not derail the movement. I believe our general secretary is the man for the job. He deserves the king's nomination because he has the support of all the parties. The Surya Bahadur Thapa government is unsuccessful, I delivered this message to the king.

There is no chance of my becoming prime minister and it doesn't interest me either. Neither the five parties nor my party will agree on the nomination.

It is untrue to say the movement lost momentum because of us. The government's undemocratic and inhumane attitude that banned public meetings in the capital and imposed curfews in many districts is also to blame. It became a problem to even travel on the highways. This was then the Maoists broke the ceasefire. We had no choice but to change the direction of our movement. It didn't have anything to do with ambition or greed for power.

We have tried to let the public know that we are attempting to reach an understanding with the king. If he ignores us, he will be the loser. If the king supports multiparty democracy, he ultimately has to coexist with the political parties. He cannot afford to ignore the political parties because we are the people. If he chooses to do so, he will have to adopt tyranny and ban us. How can the king ensure his future without the people?

The politics of boycott [of functions attended by government officials] has failed many times. If this idea is adopted, you run the risk of being boycotted yourself. Although I repeatedly opposed the idea, the five parties stuck to the strategy. Even the people do not endorse it. The politics of harmony is the culture of multiparty democracy. The parties should not adopt boycott politics. If we do, it will backfire on us.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)