Nepal’s ex-king offered home, car, but with a catch

June 12th, 2008 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 12 (IANS) As Nepal’s ousted king Gyanendra started life as a commoner outside the fortified and luxurious royal palace Thursday, he has been offered a parting gift. A law student is offering the deposed king - who asked the government to help him find a roof over his head - his own house as well as a land cruiser.

Navaraj Sharma says he will give up his two-storeyed house in the capital, worth Nepali Rs.25 million, and the Rs.2 million car for the royal couple’s life-long use so that they can vacate their new residence.

“Being a Nepali, it is my duty to help another Nepali in distress,” the student said.

However, Sharma’s bounty comes with a condition.

If the former king, who became a citizen without any privilege last month, can be provided a palace by the state, Sharma wants the government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to provide a mansion to every homeless citizen.

Even as the former royals left the Narayanhity palace forever Wednesday night, ending a critical era in Nepal’s history and its 239-year-old dynasty of Shah kings, the parties and public have been protesting against the government’s decision to allow them to move into the Nagarjuna palace, the summer retreat of the former royal family.

Protesters staged a sit-in before the constituent assembly, condemning the granting of privileges to the former king and queen.

While some began collecting money from passersby to create a “welfare fund” for “pauper Gyanendra”, others held aloft placards that said, “Give alms to beggars, not palaces”.

In a bid to deflect the public anger, the government said that the former royals would be allowed to use the Nagarjuna palace only temporarily, so that they could find suitable accommodation.

The Narayanhity looked empty Thursday morning, deserted even by the curious crowds who had been keeping vigil outside Wednesday, defying downpours, to see the last king of Nepal make his final exit.

Though most were jubilant, shouting slogans in support of a republic, some cried in grief.

“The king had held Nepal’s different nationalities together,” said a sobbing Harimaya Chhetri, who wondered where she would go during the Hindu festival of Dashain in October. “Every Dashain, I went to the palace to receive the blessings of the king and queen.

“With their departure, the nation has lost its parents.”

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