King's aide crosses swords with Nepal media
Mar 16, 2007 - 10:29:04 AM

Kathmandu, March 16 - After a string of rebuttals by Nepal's palace, now a trusted aide of King Gyanendra has crossed swords with the media, saying he did not read out the monarch's message at a Hindu ceremony in India, as reported by some dailies.

Reacting to a report in Kantipur, Nepal's biggest daily, and its sister publication in English, the Kathmandu Post, Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan, principal secretary of King Gyanendra and the monarch's trusted go-between for confidential parleys with prime ministers and ambassadors, said contrary to reports, he did not participate in a nine-day yajna ceremony in India's holy city Vrindavan from Feb 21.

'- that I had read out a message from His Majesty at a religious gathering in Vrindavan... was misleading,' the palace envoy said in a denial that was carried by the Post Friday.

'I would like to clarify that I did not participate in the ceremony,' Maharjan said.

However, while the Post carried the denial immediately, Kantipur, that carried a bigger report Thursday and is more widely read, is yet to publish the palace official's statement.

The two front-page reports Thursday had said King Gyanendra sent a message at the ceremony organised to seek divine help to save monarchy in Nepal and restore Hindusism as the state religion in the Himalayan nation.

They said the ceremony, attended by nearly 30,000 people from Nepal, praised the kings of Nepal, calling them brave and religious.

They also said it was widely rumoured that King Gyanendra himself would attend the meet. However, instead of the king, his emissary Maharjan read out his message on the last day that said though the monarch wanted to take part in the ceremony, 'special circumstances' kept him away, the reports said.

The newspaper report appeared at a time that has been especially trying for King Gyanendra, who faces an election in June that could result in the abolition of monarchy.

As the polls come closer, all kinds of allegations have been levelled against the palace, including from the Maoists, who are accusing monarchists of plots to incite violence. The rebel allegations have been refuted as baseless and malicious by the palace.

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