Manisha`s wedding to bring arch-foes face to face?
Kathmandu: As Nepal hosts Manisha Koirala`s wedding Saturday, the most intense speculation is whether President Ram Baran Yadav will come face to face with his bete noire, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, and the latter with his, ex-king Gyanendra.
Or will they come up with polite excuses to wriggle out of the invitation and along with it, a most embarrassing situation?
The 40-year-old actress, who is finally marrying Nepali businessman Samrat Dahal in a glittering three-day ceremony starting Friday, has invited former king Gyanendra as well as his arch-enemy Prachanda, the Maoist chief whose party fought a 10-year war to abolish monarchy in Nepal.
The wedding is scheduled Saturday, after an engagement ceremony Friday. The reception is at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel Sunday.
Most of the key political players have preferred to wait and watch and are yet to confirm their presence.
Former king Gyanendra has decided to stay away from Kathmandu.
The last king of Nepal left for Bara district in southern Nepal Wednesday to inaugurate a new temple. He will be camping in the Terai till Sunday despite the heat and the discomfort.
On Friday, Gyanendra, whose bid to rule Nepal with the help of the army had received Manisha`s support in 2005, will go to Birgunj town to offer prayers at the Maithan temple as well as at the infamous Gadimai temple, where tens of thousands of animals are slaughtered every five years.
From there, he will proceed to Rautahat Saturday to visit a Shiva temple.
With the former king planning to return to Kathmandu only Sunday, it is certain that he will not be present at the engagement or the wedding.
Though a morning flight will bring him back to Kathmandu Sunday in good time to attend the reception, there`s still no certainty as the flight will depend on the weather.
During the former king`s earlier visit to the Terai town of Nepalgunj, he had to postpone his return to Kathmandu due to bad weather.
As for Prachanda, his aides said it was still not confirmed if he would attend the ceremonies.
The top leaders of the Maoist party are currently locked in an intense debate over future strategy as well as leadership after failing to topple the coalition government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal despite almost a year of protests.
If any major meetings are scheduled Sunday, Prachanda would not be able to attend Manisha`s wedding reception, his son Prakash told reporters.
In 2006, when King Gyanendra held a controversial municipal election, Manisha had flown down from Bollywood to campaign for it. The Maoists had tried to stop the polls and in retaliation, announced a "ban" on films of Manisha, the granddaughter of the nation`s first elected prime minister Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala.
Her father Prakash Koirala consented to become a minister in the king`s cabinet, an acquiescence that caused him to be expelled from his Nepali Congress party.
Also invited to the reception is President Ram Baran Yadav.
Yadav replaced Gyanendra as the head of state. He also aroused the enmity of the Maoists by reinstating the army chief the Maoist government had sacked, an action that caused the fall of the Maoist government.
Since then, the Maoists had been boycotting all official functions attended by the president.
Now it remains to be seen if Prachanda and the president would be present at the same programme.
The president`s office said it was not yet confirmed whether he would attend the reception.