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Majestic mistakes

Publication Date : 19-10-2012


In politics it is quite normal to hope for regaining one’s lost position and a real politician spends his or her entire career to this end. However, only those with a clear and timely strategy, for the most part, get a second chance. Those who have no concrete strategy or who believe in using outmoded tactics to regain their lost position are, more often than not, confined to history. In the case of Nepal's ex-king Gyanendra Shah, his inability to tap into the support for monarchy in his favour is what is preventing the institution’s restoration. Instead, he seems quite adamant on antagonising liberal-minded Nepalis—a segment whose support is a must for the monarchy’s restoration.

The ex-king clearly lacks vision and as his recent journey to the western part of the country aptly demonstrated, he lacks good advisors. It is not that he does not have the right to go and worship various deities in Nepal, or abroad for that matter, but allowing a Hindu organisation to provide him with motorcycle escorts was quite unnecessary and uncalled for. If anything, it made the ex-king appear as being associated with an organisation that does not appeal to many liberal minded Nepali Hindus for various reasons. In a religiously and culturally diverse country like Nepal, only a politician who can relate to all Nepalis has chances to succeed. Using religion, in the short run, may provide the ex-king with 100 supporters but in the not-so-long run, it would lead to losing an extra 1000 supporters. As someone who believes that Nepal is better off with the institution of monarchy, it was quite appalling to see the ex-king surrounded by the committed and or paid members of a Hindu organisation, the Shiva Sena. The sooner the ex-king and his advisors learn that religion and politics do not mesh well in today’s world, the better it would be for the monarchy’s cause. The Shiva Sena may be a very good organisation committed to the Hindu cause, but a king should be seen as representing all citizens and not be seen associating with Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist organisations. He definitely shouldn’t allow religious organisations to control or overshadow his visits and workings.

Similarly, it would do good for the monarchy’s cause if the ex-king keeps his eyes and ears open and not rely on his advisors alone. If he had met and listened to those wanting to meet him and tell him something, it would have been a good PR exercise and helped in branding the institution as something representing all Nepalis. A case in point: an elderly man had come from Parbat to have an audience with the ex-king in Pokhara during his stay at the Fishtail Lodge. The old man waited outside the hotel’s gate bracing the sun and the rain for many days, pleading with the boatmen and other staff of the hotel, but was denied an audience. It is very unlikely that his existence was not reported to the ex-king.

On the other hand, some of his elite supporters (members of the Rashtriya Panchayat of the bygone days) were invited from Syangja for a meeting. As someone who happened to be at the Fishtail lodge when the ex-king was staying there, it was quite disheartening to see that old man waiting in vain for a meeting. The man probably went home dejected, and most likely, the ex-king lost one of his supporters. If the ex-king is happy reminiscing the old days and building castles in the air, then he did no wrong by denying the old man an audience, but, if he really wants the institution to make a comeback, a wish expressed in many of his interviews, then, he only harmed his own cause—a no no for any politician who wants to present himself as representing all Nepalis.

One of the most important aspects for the future of the monarchy, sadly, has been ignored by the ex-king and his men. Of the many reasons that are blocking the monarchy’s restoration is that people identify the institution with the ex-crown prince Paras Shah. If Gyanendra Shah he is serious about the monarchy’s return, he should now be promoting his grandson, Hridayendra Shah as the face of the monarchy and convincing the people that Paras Shah is nowhere in the succession line. Deliberate leaks of Hridayendra Shah’s photos and profile in the pro-monarchy media would do a lot towards reminding the people that there is an alternative to the ex-crown prince.

The mess that country is in today has made some feel that Nepal would benefit with the restoration of monarchy. Many are not so sure what system would be appropriate and it is Gyanendra Shah’s responsibility to persuade them through deeds that the monarchy is suitable for Nepal. To use the business parlance: It is all about branding the institution to make it appealing to a significant chunk of the population. Perhaps, it is about time the ex-king made use of his marketing and branding skills to make the institution of monarchy appear a better option to those who are yet undecided or are disillusioned with the present system. The ex-king, we all know is a successful businessman, now is the time to prove that he is a good politician.


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