Excerpts from an interview with pro-left intellectual Govinda Bhatta
You have remained quiet following the royal declaration. Why?
I haven't remained quiet (on the 4 October royal move). Even before the present government was formed and showed its true form, I had made my views clear. I told those who accused the king of being regressive not to be so hasty. The Nepali Congress holds the biggest responsibility for the current situation, but that doesn't mean we are at loggerheads with His Majesty. We have to think about the long term and resolve the crisis through dialogue. When I said this, rightists lauded me for being right while leftists told me I shouldn't have spoken in the king's support. I still say the royal declaration wasn't regressive. There are ways to move on from here. Peaceful understanding and dialogue can save the country from regression. The king, however, has been careless towards political parties-those who came to power after the People's Movement. It's natural for the public and the political parties to feel angry if the palace chooses to go it alone.
Rather than working to create a consensus, the political parties are intent on criticising the king's declaration as unconstitutional and regressive. They're working towards undermining the monarchy.
I will not call the royal declaration regressive, unconstitutional or undemocratic. The king has reiterated that he wants to hold elections quickly and to hand over power to the government formed after the election. Even the present government has said it wants to hold elections as soon as possible. The current crisis is the result of the king being put in a difficult position and the inability of the parties to come to a consensus. We can't call it an unconstitutional or regressive step. A few positive aspects have emerged from this situation. Corrupt ministers are being taken to task. Today, the people will not be swayed by the terms "democracy" and to vote for political parties. If the parties are right in their criticism of the king, why are the people quiet? The day after the royal declaration, there should have been millions of protestors on the street.
What direction will the nation take when political parties react to the royal declaration?
From his deliberations with political leaders and the views that the king has expressed, I do not suspect him of trying to undermine democracy and establish autocratic rule. But if powers within the palace and rightists surrounding the king are trying to use him to bring about such a situation, we have to fight to the end. I do not think the demonstrations and public meetings taking place now are aimed against the king. But I do suspect a rightist conspiracy to undermine democracy, which the people fought for in 1990. This suspicion is aimed at those rightists who want to make the king helpless and then take power.
What is the way out for the country?
The most important issue is to solve the Maoist problem. As long as they ignore the Maoists, no party can run an effective government. When the king formed the government, his priority was peace and security, local elections and general elections, in that order. This is a visionary point of view.