A slew of statements in the past month hinting at a Poush One-type royal putsch is too deliberate to be a coincidence. First we had the government spokesman stirring a hornet's nest on 11 November by wondering publicly about the possibility of reverting to authoritarianism.
Then there was a sense of disquieting d?j? vu as we heard demands to set up a 'royal advisory council'. Pliant party disgruntleds seem to be forging an alliance, and a younger generation of royals was newly vocal. On Thursday, a regional Raj Parishad meeting was inaugurated by King Gyanendra himself.
This shadowy game is being played out amidst a semi-democracy, when a twitching constitution still grants us the right to free expression. The royal right has every right to use that freedom, just as those who don't agree have the right to disagree.
But if the freedom is being used to do away with those very civil liberties, then it's not enough to just sit in the sidelines. We are either free or we're not, we can't be half-free. The choice shouldn't just be Mahendrapath or Prachandapath, we should be free to say neither. One can't be 'objective' about dictatorship or totalitarianism.
However much the political parties brought it on themselves with their shenanigans, and even though there are few indications that they have mended their wayward ways, we strongly advise against any temptation to reverse history. This will push even those who still believe our common future lies in constitutional monarchy and pluralistic democracy towards republicanism. Whoever is counselling this move is pushing the monarchy itself into a trap and the country into irreversible polarisation.
In the week after October Fourth, we gave King Gyanendra the benefit of doubt but cautioned that he was gambling his throne with the move. The last two years of musical chair governments have not been any different from pre-October Fourth. Whatever this was, it isn't working. But the Deuba government is a coalition of the willing and at least representative of the membership of the former house. How is dumping Deuba for direct rule going to be any different than what we have now: a government and military which take orders directly from the palace?
There is a fork on the road, we should take the path that takes us towards inclusion and shores up democracy instead of dismantling what remains of it. Only that will help us find ways to address the other serious threat to democracy: the Maoists.