After his enthronement, King Gyanendra kept a low profile and studied the country's political situation. Then, a year ago, he gave an interview to this newspaper and told me: "Pushkar, I cannot sit idly by like my brother when I see the condition of the country and the people. Yes, I will follow my brother's path of multiparty democracy, but I don't want to be just a mute spectator to the pain and suffering of the people. I will remain within the bounds of the constitution, but I am working on a strategy to use the maximum powers vested on the king to serve the people."
The king had given indications, but our political leaders chose to ignore him. In fact, the elected Nepali Congress soon went berserk with its infighting. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba went to the extent of trying to extend his term from six months to a year by saying that he couldn't hold elections.
His Majesty's decision on Friday night has been crticised by some political parties as being unconstitutional. But other constitutionalists argue that although the decision may have been against the letter of the constitution, it is not against its spirit. There is no point arguing this point any further, but to look ahead. After all, we have to ask ourselves: who pushed the king to the point where he was forced to take this decision?
His Majesty is aware of the implications of his decision and the fact that there will be doubters. But he has underlined his trust in democracy and constitutional monarchy. He is not against democracy, he is against those who misuse the responsibilities vested on them by the people.
The one who will try to cash in on the king's decision will be the Maoists. But if they are real nationalists and they have good intentions for the nation, then even they should be able to put forward names of candidates for the new council of ministers. That possibility exists, given the conciliatory statements they have issued last week. Political parties and the king himself will have to create the right conditions for the Maoists to do so. But if the Maoists reject these overtures then they will push the country to greater misfortune.
After the king's decision to take executive powers, the people want the politicians who plundered this country for 12 years to be brought to justice. The new council of ministers will have to crack down on these politicians who ruined the country with their corruption. They should be under surveillance, they should be prosecuted and their ill-gotten wealth nationalised.
His Majesty was well aware of the country's grave situaiton a year ago. All he has tried to do is steer democracy back on track and go back to his former role. That is the way we should understand it. The king well understands that he will go down in the history of the Shah dynasty as a true leader if he can resolve the Maoist problem and hold parliamentary elections before the date that ex-premier Deuba had declared.