Ousted Nepal king may try wedding diplomacy in India

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Saturday, November 6, 2010

KATHMANDU - Nepals deposed king Gyanendra is headed towards India on a nearly three-week long visit that is expected to drum up family and social support for the country’s abolished monarchy.

The last king of Nepal will be visiting Jodhpur in Indias desert state of Rajasthan to attend a blue-blooded wedding, his aides told IANS.

The 63-year-old, accompanied by his wife, the former queen of Nepal, Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi, have been invited to attend the glittering wedding ceremony of Shivraj Singh, son and heir of Gaj Singh II, former king of Jodhpur, scheduled to be held Nov 18-19.

Gyanendra will also be camping in New Delhi as well as briefly visit Mumbai. Aides said while the visit is also likely to take in some Hindu religious shrines, the full itinerary is yet to be finalised.

A Nepali tabloid said the former king, whose ouster is laid at Indias door by aggrieved royalists, will be meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has begun calling for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion in Nepal, once the only Hindu kingdom in the world.

The former king and queen had visited India last year as well to attend two royal weddings.

The wedding diplomacy comes at a time the ousted kings foes, Nepals three major political parties including the Maoists, have become the new butt of public anger and ridicule for failing to elect a new prime minister even after 16 rounds of vote.

The long political stalemate has been good for the former royal family, sprucing up the image of the autocratic former king who had in the past tried to grab power with the support of the army, in comparison with the squabbling leaders.

It has also given a reprieve to the crown. Had the parties been able to promulgate a new constitution by May this year, it would have been sure to ring the death knell of monarchy.

However, the failure to do so has now given the former king hope till May next year.

With the parties still locked in a bitter struggle for power, lawmakers run the danger of being unable to get the new constitution up by May 2011, in which case royalists, who are calling for a referendum to decide if Nepal should remain a republic, will get additional ammunition.

The man who was responsible for unseating Gyanendra from his throne, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, is also expected to visit India within this year in a bid to improve relations with New Delhi and early next year, Nepals President Ram Baran Yadav will also visit India.

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