Ex-king Gyanendra gets 'red carpet' welcome amid pol crisis

Ex-king Gyanendra gets 'red carpet' welcome amid pol crisis

Supporters of Nepal's former monarch, who is revered as the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, have demanded a national referendum to decide if the monarchy should be revived.

Hundreds of supporters thronged the airport to welcome the former king Gyanendra, who arrived in the eastern Nepalgunj town close to the Indian border for a religious ceremony in the ancient Bageshwori temple today.

The 65-year-old ex-king is scheduled to perform pooja in Bageshwori Temple, Sagar Timilsena, Shah's personal secretary, was quoted as saying by the media today.
After the religious function, the former monarch will meet his well-wishers and supporters, he said.

Mass protests against Gyanendra that began in April 2006 finally culminated in the abolition of the monarchy soon after the CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the April 2008 Constituent Assembly polls.

Gyanendra vacated the royal palace in June 2008, two weeks after the 601-member Constituent Assembly's abolished the monarchy.
Many ordinary Nepalese were delighted to see the back of the dour, unpopular king as well as his son Paras.

Gyanendra has been at the centre of many conspiracy theories, including the 2001 palace massacre that killed his popular older brother Birendra along with most of the royal family by the then crown prince Dipendra, who was allegedly fuelled by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.

The deposed king, who has kept a low profile since he left the palace, kicked up a row in March when he hinted the monarchy could still be revived if the people wanted.
"Looking at the pages of history of the country, there have been many ups and downs but it is the people's ultimate decision that everyone needs to obey," Gyanendra said in an interview aired on Avenues Television.

"I don't believe that the monarchy has ended," he said.
Political parties have failed to end a deadlock, which is pushing the country towards a constitutional crisis, if the term of the Constituent Assembly is not extended beyond May 28.

At a time of growing political uncertainty, the royal family remains respected among some older Nepalese. Many look upon the monarchy as an institution that provided stability and peace to the country for decades.