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Peacemaker ignored!

The state-run media in Nepal ignored the Indian peace envoy's appointment, indicating a negative reaction from the royal Govt.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 13:02 IST

While it made headlines in the independent media, the appointment of Karan Singh as Indian PM Manmohan Singh's special envoy to Nepal was ignored by the kingdom's official media, indicating a negative reaction from King Gyanendra's government.

Though Nepal's electronic and print media run by independent publishing houses carried the news that Singh would be here on Wednesday for talks with the King and senior political leaders, the state-run media maintained a stony silence on the visit that is expected to deliver a stern Indian ultimatum to the King.

The omission comes in sharp contrast to the fanfare in the government media over earlier visits to Nepal by envoys from foreign countries such as Cuba and Egypt that are seen as supportive of the monarchy.

Gyanendra, who seized power with the help of the army last year and has since continued steadfastly with his plans despite mounting opposition at home and abroad, likes to project himself as being in the driving seat.

Since the royal coup, the state media, always under tight government control, has become a mirror to the King's reactions.

In a bid to be seen as someone in control of the situation and desiring peace and democracy, the King has again been meeting known royalists for "consultations", an exercise that started in 2002 and proved barren.

The official media has been highlighting the King's meetings with former prime ministers known to be loyal to the palace and without mass support.

Since Monday he has met Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, a formerly respected Nepali Congress leader, Surya Bahadur Thapa and Lokendra Bahadur Chand, both former prime ministers, and Marich Man Singh, another royalist.

To convince the international community that he had already started dialogue with the parties, the king also met on Tuesday Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Mandal) leader Badri Prasad Mandal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Pashupati Shumsher Rana.

However, Mandal's party is already with the government and he himself is a minister in the handpicked cabinet, retained even after a massive corruption allegation had surfaced last year, resulting in the axing of two other ministers also named in it.

Rana was called after Karan Singh's appointment, to whom he is related by marriage.

Prior to this, the King had been fomenting rebellion in Rana's party, splitting it with the help of his Home Minister Kamal Thapa.

Till Tuesday, the state media had been calling Kamal Thapa's faction the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, after which it made a volte-face, calling Rana its leader.

"These consultations are just a political ploy," said Rajendra Mahato, leader of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi) that is opposing the royal reign. "The King will not budge from his stand, which is to hold general elections next year."

With the major parties boycotting the polls, fringe parties loyal to the king are expected to win, forming a new parliament of royalists.

It would then amend the constitution to allow the king to become an active monarch legally, the opposition parties predict.