Ousted Nepal king’s minister joins Maoists

September 29th, 2010 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Sep 29 (IANS) Politics continued to bring together strange bed fellows in Nepal with a veteran politician, who had supported deposed king Gyanendra’s coup and became minister in the royal cabinet, Wednesday joining the former king’s arch enemies, the Maoists.

Radha Kanta Mainali, a former communist leader who had taken part in an armed uprising against the all-powerful Shah kings of Nepal in the 1970s, surprised the nation in 2005 when he threw his weight behind King Gyanendra and became education and sports minister in the cabinet headed by the king himself.

When a pro-democracy movement spearheaded by the Maoists a year later caused the royal regime to collapse and monarchy to be abolished, Mainali retreated inside his shell, keeping a low profile till Wednesday when he surfaced at the Maoist party office in Kathmandu to join the former guerrillas who fought a 10-year war to topple monarchy.

The 66-year-old said he was joining the Maoists as an individual. He defended his decision saying that he wanted to return to politics and having been a communist in the past, the Maoist party was a natural choice.

The former royalist minister said he had never advocated sidelining the parties and had joined the king because he thought the monarch was seeking a political solution to resolve the Maoist insurgency.

Mainali blamed the king, saying his mistakes led to the sad consequences.

Former king Gyanendra’s son-in-law Raj Bahadur Singh, who joined a fringe communist party recently, has been lobbying for the Maoists.

When Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda was seeking the support of the smaller parties to become the prime minister of Nepal once again, he also sought the support of Kamal Thapa, former home minister in the royal cabinet and leader of the only openly royalist party in parliament, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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