February 22, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Prachanda’s visit to Pashupati creates controversy

The Nepal Weekly
June 12, 2023

Senior Nepalese politicians have taken umbrage on Sunday over Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda’s” much-publicised visit to the Pashupatinath Temple a day earlier, and termed the move as “politically motivated.”

Prime Minister Prachanda, accompanied by several cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and Foreign Minister NP Saud, visited the Pashupatinath Temple on Saturday.

For Prachanda, the 68-year-old radical Communist leader, this was his first visit to the premises of the Pashupatinath Temple situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, a UNESCO heritage site.

Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said a visit of this nature could be perceived as politically motivated.

“When the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet visits a religious place together, it takes a political dimension, and naturally, questions and concerns arise,” Bhattarai said in a social media post.

“If the Prime Minister visited the temple on his own, it would have been praiseworthy, but if he visited the premises to please someone, it will be disastrous for Nepal,” President of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Rajendra Lingden said, without mentioning India.

The Prime Minister’s Secretariat said that Prachanda’s visit to Pashupatinath Temple was solely intended for observation purposes.

During his May 31 to June 3 trip to India, Prachanda surprised everyone by visiting the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where he performed an elaborate puja and offered a 108-rudraksha bead thread to the deity.

Political observers reckon Prachanda’s recent visit to temples was a move to shed his radical image.

But his detractors and political rivals believe this was just an attempt to convince New Delhi that him being in office was in the government of India’s best interests.