'Secret deal' over monarchy with Maoists in Nepal

Chandra Bahadur Gurung, the parliamentary party leader of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, claimed his party had struck a secret deal with UCPN-Maoist "to retain cultural king".

Gurung said RPP-N had reached a gentleman's agreement with the Maoists to retain a cultural king, but it was yet to be inked. "Everything cannot be said now. When the time comes, all will come out," Gurung was quoted as saying by the Himalayan Times online today.

He said retaining the king’s (cultural) status would not only be a victory for RPP-N but for all Nepalis.

Maoist leader Prachanda has openly wooed the RPP-N, which has five key votes in 601-member Parliament, for their support in his bid to become the country's prime minister for the second time.

It is widely believed to have supported Prachanda during the fourth round of voting on August 8, though the Maoists' supremo failed to get a majority support in the House.
Gurung said his party would soon launch a "chariot journey" across the nation to garner public support to restore Nepal as a Hindu state. Nepal's interim parliament in 2006 declared the country a secular state soon after King Gyanendra was stripped of his absolute power.

65-year-old Gyanendra, who was dethroned in May 2008 when the country's Constituent Assembly voted to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic, has stepped up his public appearances amid the constitutional crisis in the country. The country has been in political limbo since the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is currently heading a caretaker government.

Supporters of the monarchy in Nepal, where kings have been revered as the reincarnation of the Lord Vishnu, have demanded a national referendum to decide if the centuries-old monarchy should be revived.

Even Gyanendra has hinted that the monarchy may one day be restored. In an interview aired last year, he did not rule out the revival of the monarchy if the people believed the institution was important for the country.

Mass protests against Gyanendra, who became the king in 2001 after the death of his elder brother Birendra in a palace massacre, finally culminated in the abolition of the monarchy soon after the United CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the 2008 assembly polls.

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