We're not mind readers. And you have to be these days to predict with any degree of certainty what the next royal move may be.
October Fourth, 2002 may have been driven by a genuine belief that such intervention was needed to save the country from the self-destructive activities of the political parties and the reckless anarchy unleashed by the Maoists. That is the charitable explanation.
But in the past three years it has become abundantly clear that even if that was the plan, the palace has strayed from it. The decisions since have been so retrogressive, the trial-and-error method so erratic, and the end result so devastating for democracy and the nation that it is hard to believe such irrationality is deliberate. The monarchy may need to be saved not from the republicans in the political parties or in the rebel ranks, but from itself.
Tulsi Giri's trial balloon in Biratnagar and the less articulate ramblings of his colleagues have set alarm bells ringing so loudly that ironically even neo-radicals in the mainstream parties who were calling for scrapping the constitution are rallying around in its support now. There has also been a chorus of outrage from the party leadership, opinion makers, genuine monarchists and political moderates. If Giri's scorn for the constitution was indeed a trial balloon it has been pierced in no uncertain terms. The message to the king from just about everyone is: "Don't do what we think you are thinking of doing."
The spontaneous respect Nepalis had for the monarchy has in just three short years turned into a situation where the palace needs to rent crowds and make school children line up for televised street walks. The monarchy needs to gain back the respect of the people but this is not the way to do it.
There has been ample proof in the past three years that level-headedness is not the forte of the absolute obscurantists who are taking the kingdom back to the days when partial solar eclipses were holidays. But we believe even they are not so daft as to scrap the constitution and take absolute control. Also if experience since October Fourth has taught us anything it is not to underestimate their capacity to be rash and obstinate.
The Friday before Dasain has traditionally been the preferred occasion to spring nasty suprises on the people. But this Dasain, let it instead be a surprise gift of peace and democracy.