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'Rajneeti' gives Nepal Maoists a break from politics

world Updated: Jun 21, 2010 17:08 IST

IANS
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Fatigued and frustrated by their fruitless one-year war to topple the government, Nepal's opposition Maoist party took a break from politics to recharge their batteries - by watching the recent Bollywood blockbuster "Rajneeti".

Nearly a dozen top Maoist leaders, including former ministers and current MPs, trooped into the Kumari cinema here on Sunday to watch Hindi film director Prakash Jha's new political thriller starring Ajay Devgan and Katrina Kaif.

They included former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai, who is also projected from time to time as an alternative to Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, his wife, former tourism minister Hisila Yami, former peace and reconstruction minister Janardan Sharma Prabhakar and Nanda Kishore Pun Pasang, one of the top commanders of the Maoist People's Liberation Army that waged a 10-year war against the state from 1996.

The group of comparatively young leaders are serious Bollywood watchers, known not to miss films on serious social and political issues.

A few months ago, some members of the same group had watched the Ram Gopal Varma offering, "Rann", about a media baron and found it "inspiring".

However, "Rajneeti", loosely based on the Hindu epic Mahabharat, left the Maoist leaders unmoved.

Manushi Bhattarai, young Maoist leader and daughter of Baburam Bhattarai, said she found the film related to happenings in India, not Nepal. Maoist journalist Manorishi Dhital said he found it negative.

"'Rajneeti' focused on the negative aspect of politics and conspiracies," Dhital said. "It ignored the positive impacts when you regard politics worldwide."

The breather came as the Maoists, now the biggest party in parliament after winning the elections in 2008, have themselves become entangled in "conspiracies".

Since the fall of the first Maoist government last year, the former rebels have been struggling to regain leadership of a new ruling alliance but have been stymied by the ruling Nepali Congress party and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist.

Though the Maoists bailed out the government last month after a "gentlemen's agreement" that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal would resign in exchange, the latter refused to quit once the crisis was over, making the rebels cry that they had been "betrayed".

While his comrades sought diversion in "Rajneeti", Maoist chief Prachanda did not attend the screening.

The former revolutionary instead chose to turn up at the wedding reception of Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala.

Though Manisha had opposed the Maoists and supported King Gyanendra's bid to seize power in a bloodless coup, and her father Prakash Koirala became a minister in the royal cabinet, Prachanda decided to bury the hatchet by attending the wedding bash at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel with his wife Sita, who is also a Maoist adviser, and granddaughter Smita.

However, the reconciliation did not extend to the deposed king, who too was invited.

While Prachanda went early and left early, the ousted king came late and stayed on for nearly two hours, the careful timing ensuing that the two arch-foes did not come face to face.

But even if they had, it was doubtful if anyone would have noticed.

Besides the bride who looked ethereal in richly embroidered blue, the cynosure of all eyes - and the media - was Bollywood star Jackie Shroff.

While Prachanda and Gyanendra wore formal western suits and melted away in the crowd, Shroff, Manisha's co-actor from her debut Hindi film "Saudagar" in 1991, stole the show in his traditional Nepali suit, the daura-suruwal, topped by a black waistcoat and the quintessential Nepali cap.