Unfazed Nepal king goes ahead with own party

May 2nd, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 2 (IANS) Unfazed by the victorious Maoists’ growing pressure on him to quit the royal palace ahead of the critical session of the newly elected constituent assembly, Nepal’s King Gyanendra is leading his own party, a report said. The king, who could be the last ruler of his two-century old dynasty, spent May Day celebrating his 37th wedding anniversary by throwing a lavish feast, Nepali tabloid Naya Patrika reported Friday.

Royal relatives were invited to the Narayanhity royal palace - which could be turned into a museum in near future - for a lip-smacking banquet, the daily said.

Later in the day, the king went to the residence of a former royalist minister to bless his newly-wed daughter.

Kamal Thapa, who was home minister during the last days of the king’s short-lived government two years ago, is also the chief of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the only major party that contested the historic April 10 election in support of the monarchy.

The party failed to win any of the directly contested 240 seats while Thapa himself lost his deposit.

However, in the second phase of the election, in which seats were decided on the basis of proportional representation, the royalist party was saved from extinction by winning three seats out of 335.

Though Thapa’s daughter got married Wednesday, the royal couple chose to skip the crowded ceremony and instead gave their blessings to the newly-weds Thursday, the tabloid said.

Since the fall of his 14-month government in 2006, the king has been seen only at Hindu religious festivals and high-society weddings.

Soon after the demolition of his government due to a national uprising, he attended the wedding of the then army chief Pyar Jung Thapa, with whose support he had been able to seize power with a bloodless coup in 2005.

Since then, the king has attended the wedding receptions of the children of royalist ministers and Bollywood star Manisha Koirala’s brother Siddharth Koirala, an aspiring actor himself.

The enigmatic monarch has maintained a studied silence on the offer by the former Maoist guerrillas that they would safeguard his stay in Nepal if he chose to quit the palace voluntarily.

A senior Maoist leader Chandra Prakash Gajurel said his party had sent a message to the palace last week, asking the royals to vacate it before the constituent assembly meets.

The 601-member assembly, elected last month, is scheduled to hold its first meeting this month, when Nepal’s 239-year-old constitutional monarchy will be abolished formally.

“The king has no option than to obey,” said Dinesh Tripathy, a constitutional expert. “The only other option is to stage another coup in three weeks, which is virtually impossible now, with neither the army nor the international community ready to support him any more.”

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