‘Munni badnaam hui’ creates storm in Nepal parliament

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : When Indian crooner Mamta Sharma’s husky voice combined with glamour girl Malaika Arora’s pulse-raising gyrations in Bollywood blockbuster “Dabangg”, no one doubted that the raunchy song “Munni badnaam hui darling tere liye” would become an all-time hit in the sub-continent.

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However, few could have guessed that almost a year after the film was released, the “item number” – as a song and dance number is called in the Hindi film parlance – would create a mini storm in a most unlikely place: Nepal’s parliament.

The song made its appearance in the house Thursday, courtesy former culture minister Minendra Rijal, whose Nepali Congress party is now in opposition and seeking to force Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s resignation by blockading parliament.

The 53-year-old member of parliament, who confesses to having been an avid Hindi film watcher in his student days, chose to use the popular song to drive home his party’s point.

He tacitly likened the Nepali premier to Munni, the woman in the song who is said to have lost her reputation due to a romantic liaison, while the controversial “darling” was none other than Maoist chief and former revolutionary Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

It was a dig at the prime minister’s alliance with the Maoists, which enabled him to come to power in February but now could make him lose his chair.

The Maoists, with only days left for a constitutional deadline to draw, are pressing the premier to reshuffle the cabinet and induct 24 ministers from their party.

The Nepali Congress has warned it would not allow the reshuffle and has been obstructing parliament since this month, asking Khanal to step down.

The Maoists, on the other hand, have intensified pressure, threatening to withdraw from the government if the reshuffle is stopped.

Referring to Khanal’s dilemma in parliament Thursday, the opposition MP said the prime minister was tarnishing his name because of his “darling”.

“Don’t tarnish your image by choosing as your darling lack of disagreement, conflict and dictatorship,” Rijal said, obliquely referring to Prachanda and his party that in the past waged a civil war for 10 years.

While even the beleaguered prime minister’s own party men and parliament Chairman Subash Nembang looked amused at the Bollywood reference, others were not.

Sarita Giri, an MP from Terai party Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi), objected, calling the reference sexist.

However, the unflustered Rijal quipped that “darling” had no gender.

In India, politicians have often used hit Hindi film songs in state assemblies to prove a point.

But Nepal, that has a love-hate relationship with Bollywood, looked partly askance at the gesture.

Himalayan Television, a private TV station, said frostily Friday that an august institution like parliament had been reduced to a place for cracking low jokes.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])