Nepal Maoists fear rise of boy king after Gyanendra’s India visit

March 2nd, 2009 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghKathmandu, March 2 (IANS) Nepal’s ruling Maoist party, who last year won their war against the country’s revered royal dynasty, has now developed cold feet over ousted king Gyanendra’s visit to India, fearing it could lead to the rise of a boy king in the former Hindu kingdom.

The misgivings have been expressed mostly vocally by Nepal’s Maoist Finance Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who is suggesting that the deposed king’s nearly three-week-long private visit to India has a sinister ulterior motive.

Bhattarai Sunday told a public meeting in Sindhupalchowk district in northern Nepal that Gyanendra is trying to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other political leaders in a bid to enlist their support for the resurrection of monarchy in Nepal.

Maoist supremo and current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, whose guerrilla army triggered a revolt that led to the abolition of the crown last year, is also expressing the same fears, though not so openly.

In 2006, after King Gyanendra had to hand over the power he had usurped through a military-supported coup and there was mounting public demand for the abolition of monarchy, the then prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala had mooted the concept of a boy king.

Koirala, whose Nepali Congress party had been supporters of a constitutional monarchy, had asked the unpopular king to abdicate in favour of his grandson Hridayendra so that Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy could be saved.

However, the king had rejected the suggestion, leading to his ouster as head of state and then, to a historic election last year, which overwhelmingly voted to scrap the crown.

Now the Maoists are apprehensive that the deposed king would make a last-ditch effort in India to have his dynasty reinstated on the throne.

Hridayendra, the son of former crown prince Paras, turns seven this July and the Maoists feel New Delhi could heed the proposal to have him installed as a ceremonial king.

A Nepali weekly Monday suggested that the Maoist jitters stem from the party’s growing proximity to China while turning an increasingly cold shoulder to India.

Prachanda is poised to visit China again this summer when he is expected to finalise a new peace and friendship treaty with Beijing. At the same time, the ruling Maoist party is clamouring for the abrogation of the peace and friendship treaty signed with India in 1950, calling it unequal.

The Tarun weekly also suggested that it was the fear of the political repercussions of Gyanendra’s India visit and his forging closer ties with New Delhi that last week prompted Prachanda to announce that his government would begin a fresh investigation into the massacre in the royal palace eight years ago.

Ten royals, including then king Birendra and queen Aishwarya, were killed in the carnage in June 2001 that enabled Gyanendra to ascend the throne.

However, aides of former king Gyanendra, who is in Bhopal, say that it is a purely private visit to attend a wedding and go on a pilgrimage of Hindu temples.

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