Josy Joseph, Thursday, April 13, 2006 22:50 IST
KATHMANDU: What is common between King Gyanendra of Nepal and several Indian politicians including some Union ministers?
If sources here and in New Delhi are to be believed it is Kali Baba, a highly influential astrologer at the Kamakhya Temple in Assam. It is his advice that has forced the King of Nepal to stay away from Kathmandu despite the ongoing political agitation, curfew, and resultant anarchy.
King Gyanendra has been spending his time at Pokhara, a picturesque town some 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu at the Ratna Mandir palace there.
The Royal administration officially claims that the King is touring the western region of Nepal. "Previously too he had not visited the western region. People have been flocking to him despite violence," Information minister of the King's regime Shirsh Shumshere Rana told DNA.
The King has been making appearances at very carefully orchestrated events, including a Hindu meet where he honoured among others Manisha Koirala.
Gyanendra, who is under tremendous pressure due to the widening political protests and growing international pressure, has stayed in Kathmandu for just three nights ever since he moved out to Pokhara in early March. Dependable sources told DNA that the King's shift to Pokhara has more than just the official claims. Kali Baba, an extremely influential spiritual guru at Kamakhya Temple, is probably the reason.
He has advised the King not to stay at Kathmandu for too long because it was not good for him. Sources also confirm that Kali Baba is very popular among several Indian politicians including some Union ministers. Kamakhya temple is held very high by the Nepal royal family. King Gyanendra's first foreign trip in 2002 after becoming King was to the temple in Assam's capital.
The King's absence from the Capital is a subject of much snide remarks and speculation in the Himalayan Kingdom's capital. And the fact is that the ongoing political crisis is none like what Gyanendra has faced in the past.
With the seven party alliance and Maoists spreading the anti-King protests, both violent and peaceful, across the country King seems to have very few opportunities left to restore his glorious days. The King has just returned from his trip.