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Shailaja Acharya new Nepal envoy to India

Shailaja Acharya, aunt of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala, is a veteran member of Koirala's Congress party.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2006 18:40 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Shailaja Acharya, aunt of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala and niece of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, has been named the new Nepali ambassador to India.

She replaces Karna Dhoj Adhikari, who was said to have been appointed at the behest of King Gyanendra and was recalled soon after the fall of the king's government in April.

Acharya, the grey-haired, petite 63-year-old, a veteran member of Koirala's Nepali Congress party, comes from a political family with three of her uncles having served as prime ministers. She joined politics as a schoolgirl and was jailed during the Rana regime of all-powerful hereditary premiers.

She became deputy prime minister for a short stint in 1998, the only woman to have reached that level, but was gradually eased out of leadership soon afterwards. She hoped to assume leadership of the party after Koirala but was disappointed by her octogenarian uncle who, instead of stepping down in her favour, decided to contest the post of party president.

Acharya is also known to have opposed the seven parties' alliance with the Maoists and advocated constitutional monarchy.

Once described as the "most famous nobody of Nepal", she will become one of the most influential officials if her party's decision to rehabilitate her by making her ambassador to Nepal's biggest trade partner is implemented.

Along with Acharya, the nomination of 13 more envoys is being opposed by the Maoists, who want the government to make such important decisions only after consulting them.

The other nominations are: Koirala's foreign affairs advisor Suresh Chalise for the US, communist leader Tanka Karki for China, acting foreign secretary Bhagirath Basnet for Britain, communist leader Pramesh Hamal for Belgium, parliament general secretary Surya Kiran Gurung for Russia, bureaucrat Pradeep Khatiwada for Bangladesh, educationist Navin Prakash Jung Shah for Thailand, conservationist Ganesh Yonjan for Japan, educationist Hamid Ansari for Saudi Arabia, university teacher Suryanath Mishra for Qatar, communist leader Guna Laxmi BK for Myanmar and politician Bal Bahadur Kuwar for Pakistan.

Besides Acharya, Guna Laxmi BK is the only woman among the new names. Earlier, it was rumoured that a veteran left leader and union activist Sahana Pradhan would be appointed envoy to Russia.

Among the politicians, the plum posts have been bagged by members of Koirala's Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, the second largest party in the ruling alliance. The third biggest, deposed prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's Nepali Congress (Democratic), has a lone member in Kunwar.

The distribution has angered the lesser partners in the ruling alliance with one, People's Front Nepal, having already expressed its disapproval.