Ousted Nepal king seeks to visit India

December 24th, 2008 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 24 (IANS) Almost two years after he handed over his crown and endured a change that made him a commoner from a god-king, Nepal’s deposed king Gyanendra has triggered fresh controversy with his desire to visit India to attend a family wedding. The last king of Nepal, who was officially declared a commoner after a historic election this year and leads a reclusive life on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley, wants to visit India’s eastern Orissa state in February to attend the blue blooded three-day wedding.

Earlier this month, Gyanendra had sought a meeting with the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, to sound him out on the feasibility of the trip.

“There is the protocol aspect since he was the former head of state,” said royal watcher Kishor Shrestha, whose Jana Aastha weekly Wednesday carried details of the upcoming wedding.

“The former king is also apprehensive that the government may block his return to Kathmandu,” Shrestha said. “He would like to ensure that he can come back.”

The Indian envoy has begun facing hostile media reports in Nepal after the alleged meeting.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, whose Maoist party brought about the downfall of the royal dynasty, told the media about the meeting. Subsequently, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav was reported as saying that the Indian envoy had violated diplomatic norms by meeting a former head of state without informing his ministry.

Nepal’s foreign ministry had to step in Wednesday to scotch the controversy.

Issuing a statement, it said the minister had not accused the envoy of any breach in protocol but merely expressed his ignorance of any such meeting.

A cousin of the former king, descended from his grand-aunt Bharati Rajya Lakshmi Devi, who married Pradeep Chandra Bhanj Deo, erstwhile ruler of the former Indian principality of Mayurbhanj, is tying the knot with an Indian aristocrat from Bhopal.

The three-day wedding, to be celebrated from Feb 28-March 1, is expected to be attended by former ruling families of India and Nepal and India’s political leaders as the groom’s father is a legislator.

After Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly formally abolished the nation’s 239-year-old monarchy in May, there was speculation that the disgraced king would leave Nepal and find a new home in India, where many of his relatives live.

However, the palace issued a statement rejecting the reports. Before leaving the palace, Gyanendra told the media at his first press conference that he was committed to staying in Nepal and working for the welfare of the nation.

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