Nepal PM’s daughter to meet Pranab Mukherjee, Rajnath Singh

March 3rd, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 3 (IANS) With the crucial election in Nepal only five weeks away, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s daughter Sujata Koirala, who is a minister without portfolio, is flying to New Delhi Monday for a meeting with Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee. The 57-year-old Sujata, who will be making her poll debut in the April 10 constituent assembly election, said she would meet Mukherjee, who visited Nepal last year, to brief him about the latest political situation in Nepal.

With her father’s government last week signing two agreements with two dissenting ethnic groups who were threatening to stop the historic election, his eldest daughter said she would carry a “positive” message from Nepal.

“The people of Nepal are happy and are looking forward to the election,” she said.

India has been urging Nepal to hold the twice-postponed election - that will for the first time see people vote to keep or axe its two-century-old monarchy - without fail and is regarded as having played a prominent role in getting dissenting Terai parties to reach an understanding with the Koirala government last week that ended a 16-day blockade and a dire fuel crisis.

However, Sujata’s two-day visit has already begun to create controversies.

On Tuesday, she will meet Rajnath Singh, chief of India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that at one time had supported King Gyanendra and had protested against the world’s only Hindu state becoming a secular nation after the fall of the royal regime in 2006.

With Sujata having earlier said that she personally supported a ceremonial monarch in Nepal to keep the Himalayan nation’s unique cultural identity alive, the meeting with the BJP chief has already begun to be criticised.

A Nepali web site said she was going to New Delhi on the invitation of Singh and to collect election funds, which she strongly refuted.

“I am going to New Delhi to meet Mukherjee,” she said. “However, since Singh had congratulated me when I became minister in December and told me he would like to meet me, I decided to do so since I am going to India.”

Sujata rejected the allegations that she was still carrying a torch for King Gyanendra.

“I am a member of the Nepali Congress party,” she said. “When my party has signed the agreement to declare Nepal a republic, I have to follow my party line.”

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