Nepali Times
Guest Column
Stealing their thunder


Many column inches have been devoted to the imminent fall of the Shah dynasty. Some, in this page, have gone as far as to call for a 'rhododendron revolution'.

The 'progressives' in the Nepali news media are unable to bear the 'tyranny' unleashed after February First. If only a jolt of pragmatism got through their thick-skinned idealism they would understand that a couple of years of 'tyranny' is better than even a moment of anarchy.

Every passing week brings another piece of news of brave Nepali soldiers thwarting attempts by pusillanimous zealots from spreading their diseased revolution. The widely accepted view (especially in the international media) that there is no military solution to this conflict does not hold anymore. Even King Gyanendra's critic, Kanak Mani Dixit, has conceded that 'the rebels' spectacular attacks on army/police garrisons seem now to be a thing of the past'.

Surely, a major victory will not come in the weeks ahead. The rebels may even pull off a couple of successful attacks. The military challenge is not what troubles me, it is the road ahead. How do we get our dysfunctional political system to work for everyone? Is the constituent assembly the miracle that will solve all the ills inherent in the 1990 constitution? The Maoists have for long intended to use this tool as a pretext to reprogram our democratic institutions to suit their goals. Even the political parties have now clung to this idea as they too see it as a mechanism to increase their power and influence. We cannot let the political leaders ruin it again for us.

Sadly, it is clear that the current ministerial team does not have all the answers either. It may have mastered the art of crisis-management but it does not have the vision to implement the necessary political framework that will last long into the future. The diplomatic blunders and bureaucratic intransigence of the king's advisers have only made matters worse. Who in his right mind thinks that sending armed officers to public offices will stem corruption and increase efficiency?

And why is Deuba dragged to the Royal Corruption Control Commission just days before India publicly shows its willingness to supply arms to Nepal? The RCCC is by far the greatest blunder. It may appear to some that it is a powerful instrument to check the political forces who have now been allowed to come out in the open. Instead, it only terrorises the general public and gives you a bad rap in the international media. It is also a glaring reminder to all Nepalis of how easily absolute power can be used against them. There is a way out of all this but the king must proceed with haste. He shouldn't forget he is living on borrowed time.

The king will need a transparent advisory committee to guide the kingdom back to a successful democracy comprised of technocrats with no political history. This will steal the thunder from the Maoists and political parties. The Maoists should be given a timetable to lay down arms in exchange for a new constitution. This should placate segments of the international community who are afraid that the king wants to pull a Musharraf.

The palace should stop using the state-owned media to fight its battles. No one believes a single word printed or broadcast there. The king should also delay the signing of any peace deal with the malicious cowards who call themselves revolutionary. They dug their own graves when they embarked on their barbarous mission.

A great leader is one who breaks the mould only to establish something more lasting. The mark of such leadership, however, is in understanding one's limits. You can't turn the tides of democracy. You can only shape it. The king showed the courage to stand up when dust was flying, may he find the courage to stand down when it settles!

Rabindra Nakarmi is the pen name of a political analyst.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)