Slain crown prince’s love hits Nepal poll trail

March 25th, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 25 (IANS) Six years after she was catapulted into media headlines worldwide following the mysterious massacre of Nepal’s royal family in the tightly guarded palace in Kathmandu, the dead crown prince’s love, Devyani Rana, is making waves again. The svelte, beautiful Devyani, who last year exorcised her links with ill-fated crown prince Dipendra by marrying into Indian aristocracy, is now back in her homeland to hit the campaign trail for the crucial April election.

Dipendra is blamed for the palace massacre in 2001 that killed the king, queen and two other royal children.

Devyani, married to Delhi entrepreneur Aishwarya Singh, grandson of Indian Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh, has returned from a honeymoon in Europe to campaign for her father Pashupati Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana and his Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), the biggest opposition party in Nepal.

Rana, the grandson of the last all-powerful Rana prime minister of Nepal, is contesting the April 10 constituent assembly election from two constituencies in Sindhupalchowk, an inaccessible mountainous district in north Nepal where many villages still do not have electricity, running water or motorable roads.

The Oxford-educated Rana’s poll campaign has repeatedly come under attack from the Maoists, who stopped him several times from holding public meetings.

In the past, Rana has won from Sindhupalchowk thrice in a row. The opposition leader is now trying to keep his record intact and triumph over nearly 10 rivals, including the powerful local representative of the Maoists, Dawa Tamang.

For the last two weeks, father and daughter have been going from one poll meet to another in the remote villages of the constituency.

Though Devyani, who works for the UN in New Delhi, had shown no inclination to join politics, it runs in her blood.

On her mother’s side, she is the niece of India’s former royal family of Scindia. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is her aunt.

In 2006, another celebrity Nepal daughter also campaigned on behalf of her father’s party.

Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala flew down from India’s tinsel town to campaign in Biratnagar along the Indo-Nepal border for the controversial local election called by King Gyanendra, which was supported by her father Prakash Koirala.

Ironically, the election was boycotted by over 90 percent parties, including Rana’s RPP and the Nepali Congress, Nepal’s biggest party of which Manisha’s grandfather B.P. Koirala was one of the leading lights.

The poll, not recognised by the international community, marked the beginning of the end of the king’s government and a dip in Manisha’s popularity.

However, Devyani has a better image in Nepal.

She is regarded with respect for her dignified handling of the crisis that arose after the palace massacre with a section of reports saying the crown prince had turned the gun on his parents after they opposed his desire to marry Devyani.

Her wedding party in Kathmandu was a lesson in reconciliation, attended by both King Gyanendra and the men who dethroned the king, prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist leaders.

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