02/26/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Former Nepalese king visits India: meetings with Hindu leaders scheduled

by Kalpit Parajuli
For the first time since the end of the monarchy, Gyanendra has gone to New Delhi. It is possible that he will meet with Prime Minister Singh and members of the BJP. For the former Nepalese ambassador in India, the former monarch could ask for pressure on the Maoist government.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The former king of Nepal has been visiting India since Wednesday. It is the first trip of Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (in the photo) since Nepal became a democratic republic in May of 2008.

Accompanied by his wife, some assistants, and his bodyguard, he flew to New Delhi as a private citizen, dressed in plain clothes, to attend a Hindu wedding: the former Nepalese royal house is connected by marriage to the Rajputs, once a family of Indian princes.

Gyanendra is scheduled to be in India for two weeks. Nepalese and Indian media reports that the former king is scheduled to meet with the prime minister of New Delhi, Manmohan Singh, and some political leaders, including representatives of the Hindu opposition parties.

Lokraj Baral, a former Nepalese ambassador to India, says: "We can’t say exactly what will happen after his visit in Nepal. But some sort of pressure regarding secularism may come to Nepal government." Baral explains that "Nepal has already been declared a republic, so there is no chance to empower king but secularism is the concerned matter for world Hindu and Bharatia Janata Party (BJP)."

Among the issues that the former king of Kathmandu is expected to address in his meetings in India is the affair of the temple of Pashupati, where since the beginning of January the Maoist government has been trying to install monks of Nepalese origin to replace the Indian bhandari in charge of the place of worship since the early 1900's.

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