Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
‘Principles and practicalities’

The leaders of the political parties are responsible for the mess that we are in. Had they been prudent, Nepal would not be in such shambles. I always said we needed to be balanced and patient, but they were unnecessarily obstinate time and again.

For instance, the parties put a condition on meeting the king. They said they would not meet him if he refused to discuss their 18-point agenda. When we sat for the five-party meeting, I said this would only complicate our future. My argument was that principle and practicalities are two different things. Many may not have understood what I wanted to say. Now what I feared has come to pass.

Of course, I am one of the signatories, although I cited reservations. I am not pro-palace. As a communist, I am a republican. Our party supported the idea of a republic even 40 years ago. We realised not everything we want can be achieved. There are practical aspects to be considered. However, I am not surprised at the way students are chanting slogans for a republic. I told the king, "These are students who study political science at university, it is natural for them to be pro-republic." These are matters related to principle.

The leaders of the other four parties have said they will implement the 18 points once they have state power. This will be very difficult to do, but the bottom line is that it must be done. If we abandon those demands, the people will not spare us. Since we put everything down in black and white, we cannot back down. If we do, our credibility is lost.

We are stagnant because of the 18-point agenda. By all accounts, this is the main obstacle between the king and us. In principle, the issues we raised are absolutely correct. But we could have talked tactfully only about the supremacy of the parliament and transparency of a constitutional monarchy. The practical aspects are different. Take Cambodia, for instance. King Sihanouk fought the Japanese, the French and the US. He stood with the people and so he endured the revolution. It is clear: as long the people are served, monarchy will remain.

It took 50 years and three kings before Britain's parliament was truly established. We cannot expect things to be resolved easily here in Nepal. This is why I say we must not raise our 18-point issue with the palace at present. Naturally, it will put the palace in a spot. In other words, discussing the demands will be tantamount to the palace committing suicide. But if there is no agreement between the palace and the parties, the movement will continue.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)