It's not a question of whether King Gyanendra should be an active monarch or not, it is about how active he should be.
That appears to be the message that the organisers of the Raj Parishad wanted to convey with their controversial two-day conference that began at the BICC on Thursday. "If the country is adrift and the king wants to help rescue it, what's wrong with that, isn't that what he should do?" asks the former chairman of the royal council's standing committee, Keshar Jung Rayamajhi.
Raj Parishad members say they are not against constitutional monarchy and democracy, adding that political parties are so hung up on due process that they have lost sight of the need to find a solution to the country's crisis. They blame the parties for not helping the king in forming an all-party government.
But political parties, including the UML, which is a partner in the royal-appointed Deuba coalition, say Thursday's conference was final proof of the king's authoritarian ambitions. Indeed, 11 invited UML members in the government including Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari boycotted the conference. The UML also deployed its student wing to block roads, burn tyres and stone the police. There was a brief attempt to block the road at Ghantaghar that the royal motorcade was to take en route to BICC. The road was cleared of bricks and tyres just in time.
"The Raj Parishad conference is unconstitutional and illegitimate, it has widened the gap between the parties and the king," the UML's Subash Nembang told us. The NC's Arjun Narsingh KC agrees: "This is a calculated move to consolidate the royal takeover two years ago, it will create conditions for a tyrannical rule."
The fact that the Raj Parishad conference coincided with rumours that the king is contemplating sacking Deuba again to reign directly added to misgivings among the parties. Aside from its legality, many politicians suspect the conference is designed to prepare the groundwork for direct royal rule.
Analysts say that at the heart of the dispute is a deep lack of trust between the king and the parties. Some Kathmandu-based diplomats feel the king is genuinely trying to find a solution and the parties are raising procedural issues to block him. "If the king wants to go beyond the political deadlock to strike a peace deal with the Maoists, most people would welcome it," a senior diplomat told us.
Speaker Taranath Ranabhat, who is ex-officio member of the royal council, told us: "It all depends on what kind of final document the convention comes up with, but going by today's speeches there is nothing to worry about."
Chairman of the Raj Parishad standing committee, Parsu Narayan Chaudhary has said the council would recommend measures the king could take. He added: "We're not here to bash parties, we want to help the king find a solution."