13 April 2016: History is full of vanquished kings who fled to distant lands in order to save their lives after being overthrown by political opponents. But not Gyanendra Shah of Nepal. In that respect, he has proven to be an extraordinary ‘former king‘ who has not only stayed put in his native country but also continues to be as fearless as a reigning monarch.
The ex-king, who now lives the life of an ordinary citizen, has spoken several times since the first constituent assembly forced him to leave the sprawling Narayanhiti Palace. Every time he opens his mouth, it is no sugar for the country’s political leaders. Every time he breaks his silence, it is to take swipe at them for what he believes to be failure to realise ‘people’s aspirations’ – for undelivered promises.
He does this despite threats of severe reprisals from the government should he continue to make political comments.
He remains unfazed, as shown by his latest message made public yesterday to mark the Nepalese New Year. He has lambasted the political parties yet one more time. This time only casting the spotlight right on the futility of the current political leadership which he said has weakened the glorious country his forefathers left.
Mr Shah severely criticised the mainstream political leaders for their power-hungry (Agasti) ‘style’ that he laments has weakened and harmed the Himalayan nation.
He said, in no uncertain terms, that the parties are using the new state mechanism for ‘personal gains’.
This is perhaps the most direct statement he has made so far. It is yet to be seen what sort of reactions the former king’s criticism will draw.
Nepal is home to one of the most successful and functioning communist parties in the world. Unified Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) waged a decade-long war against the then constitutional monarchy which claimed an estimated 16,000 innocent lives. Their objectives were finally realised when they joined in the peaceful mass movement of 2006 which eventually achieved what they wanted to achieve – establishment of republicanism.
“In the current context when one’s concept of nation has weakened and regional and global politics are just entering a new phase, the difference between Nepalese people’s worries and the greed of the power-hungry leadership has already been damaging (translated),” Mr Shah rued on Tuesday as he extended his New Year greetings to his fellow-citizens.
Indicating at the performance of the political parties, he remarked that by now people have become aware of where the country was in the past and where it is at present.
The ex-king urged on the need to move ahead by incorporating all patriots. He also spoke about the necessity to safeguard ‘Nepaliness, Nepal’s existence and Nepal’s independence’.
Arguing that the language, history, culture and religion constitute the base of his nation, he said, “See the country first before seeing a foreign land, know the country first before knowing a foreign country, first show respect to your own country before showing respect for a foreign country and understand your religion first before trying to understand someone else’s religion”.
The former king said there is an ongoing attack on Nepal’s culture, religion, history, language and civilisation.