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HARBINGER OF BAD NEWS

General Kiran Shumsher Rana was pacing in his garden restlessly. He knew that the decision he was going to have to make would be a difficult one, a close relationship would be frayed, a very dear one would feel betrayed. The general took a deep breath, pulled his cigarette in short quick breaths and tossed it towards a bush.

The revolution brought about by the King and political parties lead by Nepali Congress would probably never have succeeded had it not been for the revolt within the Rana family. Many Ranas considered unfit to be "role wallahs" or the inheritors of the prized prime ministership with a Maharajah title to boot or even get the lesser posts in military and civilian structures, were unhappy with the Rana oligarchy. They were children from the junior wives and concubines of the maharajahs with no right to vie for the top leadership posts. Many of them were immensely wealthy. Some of them had bank-rolled and joined the illegal political parties in leadership positions to flight for democracy and end the family dictatorship.


Scions of the Rana family, descendants of Prime Minister Bhim Shumsher Rana, Subarna Shumsher and Mahabir Shumsher were leading the revolt through political actions from India. There were some young Turks in the military who had known modern military organization and warfare. They too disagreed with the ossified Rana hierarchy in the military. Three sons of Maharajah Juddha from junior wives, Nir, Kiran and Surendra were these young turks, ready to support King Tribhuvan and the coming democracy. It fell on the shoulders of Major General Kiran to assume the post of the Deputy Commander-in-chief of the Nepalese army at the time of the 6 month transition after which period the last Rana prime minister Mohan Shumsher and Commander-in-chief Kaiser Shumsher would step down as agreed upon at the Delhi conference. General Kiran would be chief and his half-brothers Nir and Surendra would take commanding positions in the military.


But the kings had already learnt lessons from the past that the army is the fount of state power and never to have brothers close rank precipitating mischief, so King Tribhuvan and the political leadership did not want three brothers as top commanders of the new army. They had decided that one of them should go, either Nir or Surendra. They too had decided to keep Nir and retire Surendra but the difficult task of breaking this news fell on General Kiran. It might have been more difficult if General Nir was getting the axe as he was the elder of the two, but Surendra was closer of the two.


General Surendra presently arrived at the garden and greeted his elder brother Kiran. Without much ado General Kiran informed him that he would have to take early retirement to make way for younger officers in the reorganization of the army. Surendra was shocked. All of these generals had their own channels to the king and so he petitioned the king for reconsideration. The message from the king came to General Surendra that he, the king, had left the re-organization to General Kiran the new army chief and thus all the decisions were his. It would never be known to General Surendra until his dying day that the decision was already made and his dear brother and senior general was only the harbinger of the bad news.

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