The solitude of a king

With the Maoists set to dominate the new Constituent Assembly, Nepal’s king may soon loose his crown. In The Indian Express, Yubaraj Ghimire weighs the royal options:

For almost two years now, King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev has been in isolation. He has become a ‘punching bag’ of sorts for Nepalese politicians and to some extent, the international community, a symbol for everything that ailed Nepal. And, of course, everybody holds him responsible for his fate. He is hardly spotted in public these days, and when he is, it is without the trapping of royalty. He remains mostly confined to the Narayanhiti Palace. Even this could be for a short while longer, for if the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) does what it has pledged to, Nepal will be a republic on the first day that the newly elected Constituent Assembly sits.

The emergence of the Maoists as the single-largest party in the forthcoming Assembly, and the likelihood of a government under its leadership, has sent out the message that time and tide don’t wait for anyone. And in this tsunami of change, Nepal-which lost its status as an officially Hindu nation two years ago-looks set to lose the world’s only Hindu monarch whose forefather began the Shah dynasty 240 years ago.

Nepal is now speculating over the king’s future. Will he seek asylum in India? Will he counter the political tide? Or will he live on in Nepal as an ordinary citizen?

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