hen people say there is no government in Nepal at present, it's quite literally true: 9 members of the 27-member jumbo cabinet is currently junketing somewhere.
The Right Honourbale Makunay has taken five of his ministers to India on his goodwill visit. If Suzy Koirala hadn't suddenly come down with diplomatic cholera, it would be a total of six ministers. In addition, the federalism minister is in China, the law minister is in Malaysia and labour minister Aftab Alam has scooted off to Israel without an invite.
In fact, the Ass's mole who is embedded in the PM's 86-member entourage has just twittered in that the entire Nepali state has shifted its capital from Kathmandu to the 6th and 7th floor of the Oberoi Hotel this week: the PM, the ministers of finance, energy, tourism, industry and commerce, all senior burocats, Nepal's entire business elite and not to mention media honchos. If you ain't there, you're nobody. An Indian hack quipped: "If the Maoists want to take over Kathmandu and create a New Nepal this would be the time to do it. The Old Nepal is all here."
Having all these ministers in tow means Makunay has to keep everyone happy when he meets Indian bigshots. He was handling it pretty well until the time came to meet Sonia at 10 Janpath. Originally it was supposed to be the PM, Suzy and Bijay. After Suj dropped out, only MKN and BKG went. Prakash Mahat was seen fuming about NC not being included.
One media personality that did snucked into the entourage at the last moment in place of Suzy was Nepal's most (in)famous journo: yes, the same one who is always rubbing shoulders with politicians on tv and is sometimes behind bars. It seems the man was assigned the room originally reserved for Suzy Auntie at the Oberoi.
Auntie's tantrum at not having been made DPM led to her to cancel her trip, but maybe during her recce trip to India last week already had ample hints that the Hulaki Road was about the only tangible outcome of this visit. One official told the Ass: "The old man and his daughter have lost it."
Both Indian and Nepali officials in Delhi are having a sense of d?j? vu, after all they'd gone through the whole rigmarole six months ago during PKD's visit. Any discussion on bilateral issues (Pancheswar, trade deficit, ISI, fake currency) all drew yawns from both sides. An official drafting the final joint statement muttered: "We'll just cut and paste from last year's communiqu?, and copy the same points."
And the juiciest one was, of course, Makunay raising a toast at the end of his banquet "to the good health of Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari and Madame". The banquet hall burst into laughter. Makunay had the good sense to correct himself quickly and say of course he meant Manmohan Singh, "not the other Manmohan who happened to be prime minister of my country also".
Eminent Indian lawyer, Soli Sorabjee, introducing Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at the India International Centre lecture n Thursday said, "Let's welcome the Prime Minister Nepal, who in Nepal is affectionately known as Makunay." To which MKN quipped: "I am Madhav Nepal, also known as Mr Nepal."