Nepali Times
Guest Column
The lion king


They are beating the drums and chanting the slogans. The denizens of cyberspace come together in blogs and fora to ponder the future of a kingless Nepal. The optimism of the republicans is limitless. They see the monarch as the chief obstacle to lasting peace and stability.

'If only the king voluntarily renounced his throne and the Maoists joined mainstream politics, democracy would flourish again!' There are two main flaws in this logic. The republicans see the king as the chief source of instability in our democratic system. The monarch is portrayed as a hungry lion in a weak cage that must be fed at all times from our taxes.

'How can a lion be happy in a cage? The lust to rule the jungle will never be quenched. If Nepalis want to live as citizens, not subjects, they must unite in ridding the lion.' Would our democracy be safer without a constitutional monarch?

Let us go back to the jungle. Who gains most when the lion is chased away? Won't the hungry wolf packs come out? By securing the loyalty of the army, the monarch has acted as a buffer between the armed forces and the political leadership in the post-1990 polity.

Sure, the Defence Ministry should have more control over the military and the parliament must have the power (with 60 percent of the votes) to overturn the king's veto. But it is not difficult to see Nepal descend into military dictatorship without a monarch to keep the institution in check.

The other fallacy that is peddled by intellectuals (even those who do not press for a republic) concerns the ease with which the Maoists can be accommodated into our political system. The theory is that the Maoists will champion the issues of the minorities and the poor who have been ignored by the mainstream parties.

How do the Maoists intend to implement this lofty goal? Say the Maoists win 30 percent of the seats in parliament and form a coalition government. Are we to cheer them on when they reveal their four-year 'democratic' plans to feed, clothe, and educate everyone? Can we trust the people who kill campus chiefs and abduct children to run our schools? Imagine the economic tremors that will be unleashed once the keys to the Finance Ministry is handed over to those barbarians.

Violence is not the only method by which a leader can inflict damage on its citizens. Is not Mao Zedong responsible for the worst man-made famine in history? More than 30 million people may have died during 1959-61 as a result of the terribly misguided Great Leap Forward. Amartya Sen showed that democracies have never suffered famines, but by blocking or reversing the process of economic liberalisation, a democratically elected Maoist government (or opposition) will only push more people into poverty.

The ultra-left in India is already planning to spoil that country's recent economic achievement. With barely seven percent of the votes, they are pushing their allies in power to pass the National Employment Guarantee Scheme which is just another Marxist economic plan that will cause more harm to the very people it purports to help.

Economics aside, one has to wonder if Maoists bound to a constitutional framework will respect civil liberties, religious freedom and private property. How can one expect people who slaughter bus passengers, force innocent civilians to partake in senseless projects, maim and murder anyone who doesn't agree with them to run the affairs of the state?

It is more important than ever before to keep our eyes open to the dangers we might be inviting by allowing ourselves to go for peace at any cost. The Maoists can cause just as much damage without their guns.

ragmatism demands that once its military is vanquished, the Maoists have no choice but to assimilate into the mainstream left party. If we want to restore peace and stability, this is our only option.

Rabindra Nakarmi is the pen name of a political analyst.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)