Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Lady Is A Trampler

As Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepal Sarkar and Prachanda’s Jana Sarkar take their battle all the way to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a third “government” has stepped into the realm of our Fourth Estate.
This officialdom is actually an individual. A Kathmandu-based correspondent for an Indian news service with wider Asian pretensions, she has been using her status as the representative for multiple media outlets down south to create and spread “news”.
The lady’s beat of choice continues to be Narayanhity Royal Palace. Anyone with anything that denigrates the king, crown prince and royalty as such can expect a sympathetic hearing. If the story line fits her “agenda,” she will package the product in a way that gets by-lined coverage in the top dailies of West Bengal (her home state?) and Andhra Pradesh as well.
Sprinkle in a few gender-specific facts (and fiction), and you can expect the world’s women to regale in her feature-writing skills. With a little geopolitical twist here and there, her prose even ends up commanding attention among thinkers in Geneva.
In recent dispatches, though, our lady has started telling more about herself – of course not in so many words. Actually, you have to read between lines. Take her latest story on King Gyanendra’s increasing fondness for late-night Internet gambling.
Our lady picked the story straight from her favorite Nepali tabloid published on Wednesdays. Yes, the same tabloid she quoted in her recent copy detailing the monarch’s bout with depression. (Full disclosure: Sensational and spicy, the weekly is one of Maila Baje’s first reads of the day. In the symbiotic relationship between the lady and the tabloid, it is sometimes difficult to discover who is feeding information to whom.)
In its version, the weekly carefully noted that the information emerged during the conference of Indian ambassadors to South Asian nations chaired by Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The tabloid quoted Shiv Shankar Menon – India’s top diplomat in Pakistan and Saran’s presumptive successor at the Ministry of External Affairs -- as having made the revelation. The weekly suggested that Indian Embassy moles in the palace may have recorded that tidbit.
In her version, our lady of the immaculate deception conveyed the impression that the tabloid had carried an enterprise story complete with fully sourced details on the royal credit cards. There wasn’t the slightest hint of a tabloid tittle-tattle.
The tabloid and the lady have emerged as one of the most prominent members of Kathmandu’s Mutual Admiration Society. But even the most intimate of relationships have their share of rules and roles, kaso sarkar?