Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Repeatedly double-crossed

Why did the Nepali Congress delete reference to 'constitutional monarchy' after 60 years of its establishment? The NC is the only party that had unfailingly stood for constitutional monarchy. The answer lies in this list of consistent double crossing of the party by the monarchy over the decades?

. The NC helped enthrone King Tribhuban after the overthrow of the Ranas on his return from India in 1950. Although he originally promised a constituent assembly and democracy, Tribhuban reneged on his promise, so the power of the Ranas went not to the people but to the Shahs.

. In 1957, the NC began a civil disobedience movement for a constituent assembly. But King Mahendra set up a constitutional committee and bestowed on himself sovereign powers and called for elections in 1958 in which BP Koirala's NC swept to power. But Mahendra couldn't get along with BP and staged a coup in December 1960, jailing all leaders. Then he banned parties and two years later declared the Panchayat constitution which stayed till 1990.

. In 1990 too, democracy was declared not because the people demanded it but King Birendra acted to save the monarchy from hundreds of thousands of people protesting on the streets.

. Although Birendra lifted the ban on parties, he first tried to get away by nominating Lokendra Bahadur Chand as prime minister. It was only when the people poured out into the streets again that an interim government led by KP Bhattarai was formed.

. Even after that Birendra was keen to announce a multi-party Panchayat rather than a multiparty democracy. However, due to popular protests he was forced to disband a constituion reform committee.

. The interim government finally set up a Constitutional Commission but the palace didn't stop its behind-the-scenes lobbying to undermine multiparty democracy with the help of 12 generals who pressured Prime Minister KP Bhattarai to keep sovereignty in the king's hands.

. While the commission was working on the new constituion, King Birendra tried to sneak in his own version of the constitution. The interim government rejected it and published the king's constitution in Gorkhapatra, torpedoing the plan.

. The new constitution handed sovereignty to the people. It had a provision that the constitution could be changed with a three-fourths majority in parliament meaning if the people didn't want, it could dump the monarchy. But the palace put intense pressure for this to be deleted.

.l The king was finally supposed to announce the constitution in 1991 but Birendra took out a piece of paper and said he was "using the special state power" he weilded to announce the new constitution. The new constitution was therefore tainted from the very day it was announced.

. This constitution makes it mandatory for the ministerial council and prime minister to approve all royal decisions except the succession. But within a month the king appointed Kalyan Bikram Adhikari ambassador without cabinet approval.

. King Birendra and King Gyanendra both ignored the constitutional provision that the cabinet should decide the compositon of the Royal Council.

. The constitution says, the king with the prime minister's approval will nominate 10 members to the upper house but he has been doing it pretty much by himself. The palace also forced members of the upper house it didn't like to resign as it did to Dipta Prakash Shah in 2002.

. King Birendra kept his 'quota' of ambassador appointments.

. Prime Minister Deuba put forth the candidacy of Biswanath Upadhyay, but King Birendra kept dangling the appointment until Deuba was forced to accept Nayan Bahadur Khatri to the post.

. After the royal massacre, Dipendra was made king even though he was the one who committed the killings and was also in a coma. There is a clear provision that only those of sound mind can become king.

. After ascending to the throne, King Gyanendra has been unraveling the constitution and overturning it provisions one by one. Then using Article 127 he took over complete state power.

. When the parties started their agitation, the palace actively tried to split the movement and then nominated a series of its own prime ministers.

. February First was the final act that transferred all remaining power to king's hands.

Change in operating paragraph in the NC statute.

Before: The NC's goal is social, political and economic development through the establishment of a just and progressive society under a constitutional monarchy, multiparty parliamentary system devoted to the ideology of nationalism, democracy and socialism.

Now: The NC's goal is social, political and economic development through the establishment of a just and progressive society by restoring a multiparty parliamentary system, sovereignty of the people and inclusive democracy devoted to the ideology of nationalism, democracy and socialism.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)