Nepal’s deposed King, Gyanendra Shah, has come out of Kathmandu shadows to warn Wednesday that national unity is under attack. His comment comes in the wake of protests sparked by proposed changes to new federal borders.
The re-drawing of borders of provinces particularly in the south is a sequel to Prime Minister Prachanda’s efforts to win peace with the Madhesis, who feel aggrieved under the constitution adopted last September. The changes proposed by the government have not gone down well with some sections which have hit the protest button arguing that the new border will create a divide between communities living in the hills and the plains.
Gyanendra Shah, who has been keeping a low profile for the past eight years, appears to see an opening in the new political divide to make his presence felt on the national scene once again. Hence his warning of growing divisions between the communities that inhabit the southern plains and the central hill areas.
“Social harmony among Nepali people is waning and efforts are being made to break the bonds of unity between the plains, the hills and the mountains,” Shah said in a statement.
The former King accused “temporary powers” who he said were “gaining strength under the influence of outside forces” of creating these divisions. Though he did not identify who these outside powers are, the reference is obviously to India, which has not shied away from articulating its displeasure over the federal borders laid out in Nepal’s new constitution.
Political observers aver that Gyanendra is trying to use the political instability in the country to reassert his authority. Will the effort succeed or find any takers? The jury is still out. There is unanimity however that the likes of former King are finding their voice once again because of the weakness of the political leadership