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CWG opening fails to strike immediate chord in Nepal


Kathmandu : Preoccupied with a protracted political crisis and an imminent Dussehra festival, Nepal Monday paid scant regard to its neighbour India’s pride, the Commonwealth Games that kicked off Sunday in New Delhi after a buzz of controversies.

The opening ceremony, inaugurated by Indian President Pratibha Patil and attended by international celebrities like Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, found cursory mention in Sunday’s television news with the fireworks and puppet show dominating the footage.

On Monday, save for the official media, there was virtually no mention of the Games.

“Commonwealth Games begin in Delhi,” said the report in the state-run Rising Nepal daily that gave the news some space on the front-page.

However, other dailies had no mention of the inauguration, even on the sports pages.

The television stations Monday made greater hullaballoo over the Nepali girls’ cricket team’s spectacular victory over Hong Kong in the under-19 ACC Championship in Singapore and the domestic football tourney, the San Miguel Cup, going on in Kathmandu’s Dasarath Stadium.

In the run-up to the Games, when the Indian authorities drew flak for the collapse of a footbridge and allegations of substandard facilities at the Games village, the criticism had found greater space in the Nepali media.

However, editors said it was not intentional but due to the delay in receiving the reports as well as photographs that the Games opening ceremony did not find much space in the Nepali media.

“We will carry the news Tuesday,” said Gunaraj Luitel, executive editor of the Nagarik daily.

As Nepal neverwas part of the British empire — and therefore of the Commonwealth — its sports activities are more geared towards the 16th Asian Games to be held in China’s Guangzhou city from Nov 12, for which the process to select athletes has already started.

The new republic’s current overriding concern is the prime ministerial election to be held once again Wednesday.

It will be an unprecedented 10th round of vote with the earlier nine having failed to elect a new premier even though incumbent Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned June 30.

Due to Nepal’s unique election system, the “race” now is confined to a single contestant. Though he is unlikely to garner the simple majority in the 601-seat parliament, which constitutes the electoral college, needed for victory, the procedure has to continue till he either wins or withdraws.

The Nepali Congress, that fielded Ram Chandra Poudel, has ruled out withdrawing him even after Poudel’s rival Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda bowed out of the race last month.

With Wednesday’s election certain to fail, the country will now shut down for nearly a fortnight as its biggest festival Dashain, corresponding to India’s Dussehra, kicks off from Friday.