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Former Nepal King Gyanendra Shah’s Kumbh visit sparks political debate

On April 11, Shah was welcomed by the Niranjan Peeth head as well as Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Kailashanand Giri. He was also projected as the “Vishwa Hindu Samrat”.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu |
April 16, 2021 12:09:31 am
Gyanendra Shah

Former Nepal King Gyanendra Shah’s visit to Haridwar and the royal reception he was accorded there has sparked a political row in Nepal.

On April 11, Shah was welcomed by the Niranjan Peeth head as well as Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Kailashanand Giri. He was also projected as the “Vishwa Hindu Samrat”. The following day, he took a dip in the Ganga immediately after Giri, which meant he was accorded a very high protocol.

In response to the welcome accorded to him, Shah claimed eastern philosophy and Hindu religion are facing onslaught and persecution, and preserving “our culture and religion have come as the biggest challenge and responsibility at present”.

Shah’s visit to India comes at a time when infighting within the ruling NCP-UML has fuelled speculation over the fate of the K P Oli government, the Constitution and the political system.

The Nepal government has not officially reacted to the visit. A senior leader of the ruling NCP-UML party said, “We are still watching how much of the visit is political, and whether the saints have been used as the proxy host.”

Former Prime Minister and prominent dissident NCP-UML leader Jhalnath Khanal asked the former King to “do things in a responsible manner” befitting the status of a former head of the state.

There are indications that the issue may be raised as an agenda during the NCP-UML central committee meeting scheduled for April 19.

Nepal formally became a federal secular republic in 2008 — two years after a movement for democracy resulted in King Gyanendra handing over power to a conglomeration of eight political parties.

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