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The Roman writer Seneca penned, "There is no great genius without some touch of madness." Could this have been true in the case of the infamous Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal, the person who shot dead his entire family and doomed the institution of monarchy in Nepal? I have got friends who vouch for his intelligence, his ability to win admirers, his penchant for working a crowd, all traits of an excellent politician. It was no wonder that he might have been dissatisfied with the way things were going in the country, he certainly would have perceived the inherent weakness of the system to tackle the Maoist insurgency and his frustration at his father's inaction as a constitutional monarch.

This story does not want to delve on the why's and the wherefore's. It is a story that was told to me by the Honorary Consul General of Nepal in the Netherlands. The Dutch Crown Prince was visiting Nepal in the late nineties when the Maoist insurgency was already in its 3rd year. Industries were already feeling the brunt of the attacks, tourism numbers were tumbling, the politicians were shouting hoarse from the pulpit with nary a plan of containment. Crown Prince Dipendra was the host of the Dutch Crown Prince. During the course of the visit the itinerary took them to Bhaktapur, truly a marvel of the medieval Newari architecture and designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dutch Crown Prince was no doubt enjoying the walking tour of the old city, marvelling at the intricately carved wooden window and door frames, enchanted by the traditional potters plying their trade, the narrow streets full of souvenir shops, the children running about and playing as in the olden days. Europe does have a few of the old cities resplendently restored, but there is no living city like Bhaktapur.

"This place is just wonderful, Your Royal Highness,"appreciated the Dutch Crown Prince Wilhelm, "Bhaktapur is indeed a very beautiful and interesting city." This probably jolted Dipendra out of his reverie. "Yes, indeed, retorted Dipendra, "but it would be extremely difficult to fight an insurgency in such a crowded town with its narrow alley ways." The reply startled the Dutch prince. He narrated this incident in the evening to his close associates.

Crown Prince Dipendra was probably a man of action, collective leadership gap might have induced a mad spell that fateful night. Would a determined prince be able to tackle the Maoist insurgency by the horn and quash it? The present state of affairs would not have come about. Nepal is now a country without the rule of law, slowly unraveling at the seams in guise of a federated structure it can ill afford.


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