By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
February 22, 2006
Manisha Koirala recently returned from Nepal after an election campaign. The granddaughter of Nepal's first elected prime minister, the late G P Koirala, she flew home to canvass for Binod Arryal, who left the Nepali Congress to vie for the mayor's post as an independent candidate.
Along with her father, a minister in King Gyanendra's cabinet, Manisha went to Biratnagar city in eastern Nepal, the family seat of the Koiralas, where her election mantra was "one vote, one autograph".
Talking about her election tour, the actress says, "It was quite an experience. Despite the threat to people's lives, wherever I went, crowds would gather and come to listen to me, and that felt nice. Even people who were normally scared of venturing out would come to listen."
Was it tough travelling from place to place and campaigning? "Not really. I have done it for my grand uncle, and twice for my father. I have grown up on politics. I know it takes a lot to campaign in small towns and villages, but for me, it's never been difficult. I enjoy it." Her father, despite being a minister, was eclipsed by his actress daughter, who was the focus of the state media.
After she returned from Nepal, Manisha found herself in the middle of a controversy. A news daily had reported that the actress has two dogs and has named them Mustafa and Delilah. Muslim fundamentalists took umbrage against this.
Says a source, "Everyday, people are coming to her house and shouting and screaming against her. Poor Manisha doesn't know what to do. It's a tremendous strain on her."
'I don't have dogs'
Says the actress, who now has police protection, "In reaction to the story published in a newspaper regarding the names of my dogs, let me clarify - I have not had any dogs as pets for the last two to three years.
And even when I did, I never gave them names that would hurt the sentiments of any religious community. I would never do anything so irresponsible. When I did have dogs, they were called Tanya and Tweety. I have tremendous respect for every religion."