Among the royal courtiers those who can be called shadow politicians are: Sharad Chandra Shah, Sachit Shamsher JBR, Bharat Keshar Simha and Dr Kesharjung Rayamajhi.
Sharad Chandra Shah
Field Marshal Surendra Bahadur Shah married King Tribhuban's niece and his son is Sharad Chandra Shah. Sources say he has been close to King Gyanendra since the Panchayat days. He played an important role in mobilising Panchayat youth workers during the 1980 referendum and later. Shah's trusted people from that period, Tanka Dhakal and Khadga Bahadur GC, are ministers today. Sharad Chandra Shah's speciality is behind-the-scenes power-brokering.
During the 1990 People's Movement he was the vice-chairman of the Population Commission and was accused of using the Sports Council to quell the revolt. In revenge, agitators burnt down his house in Dilli Bajar. He then went to an ashram in south India and later ran a restaurant in Singapore. In 1997, he returned and was appointed to the Information Technology Commission.
He was always interested in sports but now he has become a player in politics. "Sharad Chandra Shah is an administrative man not a political figure, however, he has a lot of influence among those in power," says RPP Secretary Shivahari Paudyal.
Sachit Shamsher JBR
Sachit Shamsher JBR is the brother of late Damodar Shamsher, the mysterious negotiator between the palace and the communists during the Panchayat. After retiring as commander-in-chief 14 years ago, this warrior has returned to the limelight. He has served as ambassador to Burma in 1996 and returned to Nepal amidst debate about the possible mobilisation of the army against the Maoists. He didn't stay quiet like other former c-in-cs and openly advocated the army's involvement in counterinsurgency. After the king's October Fourth move, he publicly came out in support of the monarch and was nominated to the Royal Council and was instrumental in organising various public felicitations for King Gyanendra. "The real player in the council is Sachit Shamsher," says one former member of the Council, "the chairman is only a figurehead."
The Royal Council conference headed by Sachit Shamsher proposed that the problem could only be solved through the king's direct involvement, which was opposed by the political parties. "The Council's job is to provide advice and suggestions when asked by the king, this cannot be considered politics," he said then. There are those who consider Sachit Shamsher's words to be the official line of the palace and the army. He meets the king occasionally and says, "We only provide advice when asked by His Majesty."
Bharat Keshar Simha
Retd Major General Bharat Keshar Simha is also in the inner circle. As an honorary ADC of the king, his words are associated with the monarch. Simha is also the chairman of the World Hindu Federation (WHF) and has espoused monarchism and radical Hinduism. "I will not accept a republic nor religious secularism even if it means death," Simha has said. He has served as ambassador to Britain, and on return, worked his way up the WHF hierarchy. He was intrumental in honouring the king as the 'emperor of the world's Hindus'.
After the king took over on 4 October 2002, he started becoming openly involved with pro-monarchy politics. Last year when the 'anti-regression' agitation by the parties were at their peak, he said in an interview: "A stick is not enough, we need a Jang Bahadur." At that time he maintained there could be no talks with the Maoists, now he has modified that to say: "Unless they give up their weapons there cannot be any talks."
After his term as chairman of the Royal Council expired on 18 February 2003, Rayamajhi is not officially a royal adviser. However he gives prophetic suggestions. At a program organised last year by the king's niece, he suggested, "It is important that the king form an advisory council under his own chairmanship." And that is exactly what happened. Palace sources deny him being an insider but there is no doubt he is a trusted loyalist. After February First he has met the king only once and reasons, "I'm trying for an audience but perhaps because His Majesty is busy it hasn't happened."
He famously defected from the Communist Party of Nepal in the 1960s and has served the royals loyally since. In the interim government formed after the restoration of democracy, he was nominated by the king to serve as the minister for education, culture and local administration. He even fought an election with his own party Janata Dal but lost. Even while he was chairman of the council he admitted he had advised in favour of the 4 October 2002 royal move.