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Manisha backs Nepal's monarch

Actress Manisha Koirala has turned to politicking in a big way, going against family members and supporting Nepal's King Gyanendra.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 13:45 IST

Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala has pledged support to Nepal's King Gyanendra at a time when the kingdom's major opposition parties, some headed by her own family members, have called a nation-wide shutdown from Thursday to pressure the monarch into surrendering power.

The film star, who provoked protests last month when she flew to eastern Nepal to drum up support for the controversial local elections called by the king, is scheduled to arrive in the southern town of Birgunj this week to attend a programme to be inaugurated by the king.

The World Hindu Federation (WHF), a group that started out as a socio-religious organisation propagating Hinduism but has become increasingly political since last year, is celebrating its silver jubilee this month.

Ignoring a four-day shutdown called nationwide by the opposition parties from Thursday, including a mass protest in the capital Saturday, the king has consented to inaugurate a special ceremony in Birgunj Friday.

 
 Manisha Koirala has come under severe criticism for campaigning for King Gyanendra

WHF officials said Manisha has confirmed she would attend the ceremony in Birgunj.

The WHF, which enjoys grants from the state treasury, supports Gyanendra's power seizure. Headed by Bharat Keshar Simha, a former army general and aide of the king, the WHF has been asking Hindus worldwide to support Gyanendra on the ground that he is the monarch of the only Hindu kingdom.

Last month, Manisha hopped between Kathmandu and Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, campaigning for a municipal poll candidate, who however lost by a huge margin.

Her campaign, at a time when her great-uncle and opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress party was campaigning against the elections, infuriated student organisations, which "banned" her films in parts of Nepal.

Besides Manisha, two prominent right-wing Indian leaders are also attending the Birgunj event.

Giriraj Kishore of India's Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which has close ties with the WHF, and Gopal Vyas, MP from India's Jharkhand state, are special guests at the function.

One staunch supporter of the king and the Hindu cause will however ble to make it.

VHP leader Ashok Singhal, who is provided Z category security by the Indian government due to death threats from fundamentalist organisations and who has publicly worshipped Gyanendra as the incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu at an earlier function, put off his trip due to "illness".

Singhal was earlier scheduled to arrive in Birgunj Monday, compelling the Indian government to ask Nepal to make appropriate security arrangements for the leader.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 13:45 IST