Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"The king gave his consent"

What is the purpose of organising Raj Parishad regional conferences one after another?
It is not unusual. Even after the restoration of multiparty democracy, our council members used to visit every district to apprise the chairman about the local situation. There was a practice of presenting their findings in the presence of the king. This has not been possible because of the Maoist problem. Due to security reasons, we decided to assemble on a regional basis.

Isn't it unconstitutional?
As per the constitution, the Raj Parishad has the authority to counsel the king. We can't do that by just sitting in the office and reading newspapers. We need to be acquainted with the ground reality to give the king proper advice which will eventually be passed on to the government. It is not unconstitutional.

But the constitution does not mention anything about organising regional conferences.
The constitution allows the Raj Parishad to make its own norms and rules, which is why we decided to have this conference and we had the consent of the king.

So the conference was organised regionally on the instructions of the king?
No, this was decided after a meeting held under the new chairman.

Did you instigate the king to call for a meeting?
There may be some individuals even among us with radical opinions. But the important fact is that the king has adhered to the constitution and norms of multiparty democracy.

What do you usually propose to the king?
Our advice is directed at improving the constitution to prevent the wrongdoings that occurred in the last 12-14 years. We give every advice confidentially.

But even the ministers who are members of the council protested the regional conference.
I don't understand why. The ministers would have a better idea about the council activities if only they had studied the constitution. Next year, we will perhaps organise a similar conference at the district and zonal levels.

The Raj Parishad has been accused of behaving like a king's party.
We have to make such visits so the public know about the important role played by the king in the last 14 years. The king is a symbol of national unity.

But will this not create controversy for the institution of monarchy?
I don't think so. We work for constitutional monarchy and for the king. If it creates controversy despite working as per the constitution then this may be a necessary controversy.

What do you advise the king about solving the Maoist problem?
The Maoists have constantly demanded that they will have talks only with the king. But if this happens, then the parliamentary parties may accuse the two armed forces of being united. The political parties, civil society and human rights activists should be the ones to request the king to hold talks with the Maoists.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)