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Nepal hopes for Karan magic

Indian PM's special envoy is carrying a "strong message" to the King, stating that democracy needs to be restored.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 19:59 IST

The Indian Prime Minister's special envoy to Kathmandu, Karan Singh, held a series of meetings with Nepalese political leaders, including former premiers GP Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba on Wednesday.

Singh is carrying a "strong message" to the King, stating that multi-party democracy needs to be restored if the popular unrest in Nepal was to end.

Singh is popularly known as the "Jamai (bridegroom)" of Kathmandu. His wife is Princess Yasho Rajya Lakshmi, granddaughter of' Maharaja Mohun Shumsher Rana, the last Rana prime minister of Nepal.

"I have brought good message from India for the King, and best wishes from the people," Singh told newspersons at the Tribhuvan International Airport, adding that he was optimistic that his meeting with the monarch would help restore peace.

Accompanied by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and India's ambassador Shiv Mukherjee, Singh urged the seven-party alliance of political parties to stay united to ensure a return to democracy.

Saran also met the chief of the Royal Nepalese Army, Pyar Jung Thapa, on Wednesday. The RNA, which has close links with the Indian Army, has supported the monarch's efforts to retain power after he took direct control of the government on February 1, 2005.

The RNA has managed to ensure relative peace in Kathmandu till date. But it has a difficult task ahead as the SPA plans to lead a mass rally into Kathmandu on Thursday, defying curfew and prohibitory orders. The Maoists on Wednesday appealed to the people to gather in large numbers, while asking them not to pay any tax. Analysts feel the mass pro-democracy demonstration would bring the confrontation sweeping the Himalayan kingdom to a head.

Meanwhile, the local media kept speculating about Singh's "magic formula" for Nepal. The inquisitiveness only grew stronger when even Koirala refused to talk about the outcome of his meeting with Karan Singh.

First Published: Apr 19, 2006 14:22 IST