Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Weighing risks

The main parliamentary parties are raising a hue and cry that "the king has made a mistake". But if the king can pull a rabbit out of the hat and resolve the Maoist crisis, this will silence the critics who have refused to help him.
Leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala, and countries such as India, where he has his second home, have not lent support to the Lokendra Bahadur Chand government. Knowingly or unknowingly, Koirala is helping those foreign entities who do not desire peace and stability in Nepal. The Indian papers are also writing editorials helping Koirala. And although Sher Bahadur Deuba may have physically split from the party, ideologically, he is still parroting Koirala's unhelpful line.

And the Maoists attach more importance to the power of the king than that of the political parties. It is unlikely they will say: "We will stick with brothers Koirala and Deuba." It is not inconceivable that the Maoists who are a fighting a war against the Royal Nepal Army will begin negotiations with the Chand government, which was formed by the army's Supreme Commander.

The political leaders may be crying themselves hoarse calling the new government "unconstitutional", but the people aren't descending on to the streets. That is because of the commitment in the royal address to constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy. It is also because press freedom and the freedom to protest are intact, in fact the press is now even freer because it can be critical of the king. The media has even stopped tagging "terrorist" every time it mentions the word, Maoist.

The stock of political parties will plummet further when the king figures out what it is that can bring the rebels to the negotiating table. It will be the king, with or without the support of the political parties, who will have to take this risky step. We know that the Maoists are not stupid, they will not talk unless they get something. It looks like the king will have to start thinking about a constituent assembly.

Perhaps the next general elections can also serve as an election for the constituent assembly. And as soon as that happens and the king can announce a date for such elections, the rug will have been pulled out from under Koirala and Company and their reliance on Article 128.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)