Prashant’s Craze in Nepalese Media Overshadows National Politics

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Celebrations for Prashant’s victory in the Indian Idol contest was not limited to this hometown. Rather, it extended far beyond his country. The sensations made residents of eastern Nepal and Kathmandu wild.

Kathmandu city saw nightlong enthralling rallies once the announcement was made. While the Darjeeling people had already known his success quite earlier, Nepalese learned it only through the broadcast of the Sony.

Thousands of his fans had gathered at Basantapur Durbar Square to see him winning, on a large screen projector. Others saw him on TV sets in rooms.

I was working on my computer for a book and had been sending SMSs to friends to send a message immediately after the announcement of the winner. I had intended to make news for nepalnews.com, the biggest online news portal in Nepal. However, the news came earlier.

A friend of mine in Darjeeling sent me an SMS of the victory of Prashant as he joined the celebrations in his town.

Media people had been watching the event quite closely. Since his entry into top 10 finalists, the media buzz had begun. As his success ladder continued to grow up, it received ample space in Nepalese media. This instigated the readers to cheer Prashant.

The following day he was made his victory, it was a headline for most Nepalese daily newspapers. Kantipur, Nepal Samacharpatra, Rajdhani, Annapurna Post, The Kathmandu Post, The Himalayan Times and others went mad. Not the usual political headline, the dailies covered the success of Prashat as a scoop story.

The grumbling politics were sidelined. The hot debate of the Nepali Congress unification, which would change the whole course of Nepalese politics, received lesser priority. It was national politics that overshadowed the massacre in western Nepal where around two dozen people died. However, in the case of Prashant, newspapers ignored national politics.

The coverage did not end here. On Tuesday, The Kathmandu Post supplement carried a whole front-page story on this ethnic Nepali boy from Darjeeling hills. The newspaper also carried a small opinion piece on Prashant.

Nepal Samacharpatra also carried a big story of Prashant’s victory and the celebrations in Nepal and India in its ‘PAGE THREE’ with a picture where he hugs his other contestant. The daily carries a reader’s letter congratulating Prashant. In contrast, half of a page in Kantipur carried letters all praising him.

The notable event for Nepalese at the final contest was wearing of a Nepali cap by Prashant. One of the readers referred to Prashant’s love for ‘Nepali topi’ to criticise Nepalese leaders to their fading sentiments on nationality and national cultures.

His other fan Dr Kedar Karmacharya said tears rolled down his cheeks as he saw Prashant on TV screen singing ‘gorkhaliko choro hu gorkhe mero nam’. He has proposed for felicitation of Prashant during visit to Nepal. Fortunately, Surya Nepal has scheduled a music concert in Kathmandu and Pokhara next week where his fans are expected to go wild a second time. I wonder if a school compound would be enough to accommodate his fans who are the whole of Nepal.

Ironically, Kathmandu reporter for Indo Asian News Service Sudeshna Sarkar, in her report said the celebrations for Prashant in Nepal have ideological relations with the concept of Greater Nepal. She claimed Nepalese even regard Kalimpong Darjeeling to be part of Nepal.

I asked her, what difference you find in between two the concepts: Greater Nepal and Akhand Bharat. There was no reply.

A reader in nepalnews.com said there is no point for celebrations when an Indian citizen wins an Indian contest.

Above that, Nepalese media played a crucial role in promoting the Indian Idol contest in Nepal, expanding the market of Sony TV in Nepal. The craze would grow wilder if by chance any one of Nepali origin enters the contest in the next round.

(The article initiatlly appeared in Sikkim (India) based himgirinepali.com)

I. P. Adhikari is a Bhutanese journalist who writes about Bhutan and Nepal, and is a member of the Association of Press Freedom Activists-Bhutan. He founded Bhutan News Service. A former Bhutanese refugee, he was forced to leave Bhutan with his family in 1992.
in 2001, he started The Shangrila Sandesh, and in 2004 he and Vidhyapati Mishra started the Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan. In 2007 they started Bhutan News Service. He worked in The Rising Nepal, The Himalayan Times, Nation Weekly and Nepalnews.com while living in Nepal as refugee.

Adhikari moved to Adelaide, South Australia under the resettlement program of the UNHCR for Bhutanese Refugees. There, he founded Yuba Sansar, a weekly Nepali-language radio program on Radio Adelaide.