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Parties smell success

BM Bhattarai, veteran leader of the UML, said that their goal was not too far, reports Anirban Roy.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 02:15 IST

Life in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal continued to be crippled for the eleventh day on Sunday as Maoists and members of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) began the final countdown to an end to King Gyanendra’s "autocratic" rule.

Bharat Mohan Bhattarai, former deputy PM and veteran leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), told the Hindustan Times that they had intensified their pro-democracy movement and their "goal" was not too far.

"The countdown has begun," said Bhattarai, adding that the 58-year-old monarch, who took over the reins of the country 14 months ago, would soon succumb to pressure from the people and the international community.

Pradip Nepal, senior politburo member of the CPN (UML), said they were confident that the king would capitulate within a week, as several lakh people were in the streets, fighting for the restoration of democracy.

Though there has been no official estimate of people’s participation in the protest, CPN (UML) members said more than 20 lakh people were directly involved.

Bhattarai said Gyanendra did not understand the ground reality and the imminent danger before the Royal Palace.

Adhikari ruled out dialogue with the King unless the latter concedes that the state authority and the country's sovereignty rest with the people. "He (the King) would suffer more embarrassment if he delays in taking a concrete decision on the democracy demand of the people," said Bhattarai.

Interestingly, the spokesman of Napal Engineers Association, compared King Gyanendra rule with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and Saddam Hussain. "If the US could attack Iraq, we see no reason why the UN forces cannot be rushed into Nepal to save our people," he said.

Several members of the Engineers association were also seriously injured following police's baton-charge. "The King should be captured and placed before the international court of justice for his atrocities on poor people," the spokesman, said, adding that they were confident that the King's end was not too far.

According to reports, protest rallies on Sunday were organised in different parts of Kathmandu, Kirtipur, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. The capital city wore a deserted look during the strike, as shops and business establishments remained closed during the day. Private and public vehicles were also off the road.

People were engaged in panic buying as rumours were rife that the King would soon promulgate Emergency in the country to crush the growing movement of pro-democracy. But these were merely rumours.

The two vice-chairmen of the Council of Ministers, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista met King Gyanendra at the Narayanhity Royal Palace on Sunday. Home Minister Kamal Thapa also met the chiefs of security agencies at his office in Singh Durbar this afternoon. Heads of all four security agencies - the Royal Nepalese Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department - were present at the meeting, sources said.