In the referendum of 1980, political choice was colour-coded to simplify voting: yellow for continuation of the system and blue for a change to multiparty democracy. Results went in the favour of 'improved' panchayat, democratic aspirations of nearly half the voters were left unaddressed for a decade.
When the People's Movement of 1990 upturned the verdict of 1980, most panchays dyed their bandanas blue. A few hardcore yellow hearts like Marich Man Singh refused and decided to lie low. Democrats thought that the yellow fever of the 80s was over. They were so sanguine that not even the sudden dissolution of parliament in May 2002 could wake them up.
After 4 October 2002 all that the dismissed premier Sher Bahadur Deuba could think of was his reinstatement. Eventually he was quite happy to be a nominated premier of a government with nominal powers. The firebrand of the Nepali Congress-D hadn't just mellowed, he had actually yellowed.
By consenting to accept the decisive leadership of the king, the Deuba coalition endorsed the royal takeover of October Fourth by default. This is the reason victims of February First appear to be willing collaborators of constructive monarchy.
Twenty-five years after the referendum the NC is once more thrust at the frontline of anti-palace peaceful struggle. But this time the colour scheme of the political game has a third shade-blood red of the armed Maoists whose true colours aren't yet clear. Maoists sound virulently anti-monarchy but their actions have always resulted in strengthening the hands of palace.
No politician with a panchayat background was touched by Maoists in the initial stages of insurgency. UML activists were similarly spared their wrath. It seemed as if eliminating the NC in the countryside was the sole aim of the armed insurgency. Now that the centre has crumbled and extremists of the left and right face each other menacingly, it's only the centrist NC that still has the political strength to save them from each other.
In the coming days, a lot will depend upon the proclivities of popular politicos under a blue banner. Far from being a spent force, mainstream parties will decide the future course of Nepali politics.
The international community would like to see twin pillars of 1990 constitution work in harmony. An accommodation between yellow and blue to create a green hue of constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy is still the best possible option. But looking at the belligerence of former panchays dreaming about absolute monarchy patterned after panchayat, the chances of Girija Prasad Koirala discussing absolute democracy with the likes of Tulsi Giri are dim.
At the other extreme, even though Comrade Madhab Nepal and Chairman Prachanda wave the same hammer-and-sickle flag, their political bases are too similar to allow these two ambitious leaders to work together. Prachanda can't tolerate Baburam Bhattarai and Madhab Nepal barely tolerates KP Oli in the UML politburo.
Were the pink communists of Balkhu to join forces with the yellow storm troopers of the palace to fight the Maoist menace, an orange-tinged politics of Marxists and monarchists may emerge. Recently freed Madhab Nepal has ruled out all such possibilities but he is known to change his stand at any hint of power. If this marriage of convenience is solemnised, it may force NC to open lines of communication with the Maoists thus transforming the political landscape. It may appear far-fetched at the moment but this country has seen its share of surprises. The time to think the unthinkable may be nigh. Purple power will transform the socio-cultural landscape of Nepal forever.