As constitutional crisis deepened in Nepal and the political parties failed yet again to agree on a way out, deposed king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah made a surprise public appearance Sunday when he was given a red-carpet welcome by royalists.
The last king of Nepal, who lost his crown after an attempt in 2005 to rule the country with the help of the army, reappeared before the public in western Nepal, where he flew out ostensibly to offer ritualistic worship at the temple of a Hindu goddess.
Arriving on a domestic flight from Kathmandu like an average citizen, the former king, once revered as an incarnation of a Hindu god, visited the Bageshwari temple in Nepalgunj town on the India-Nepal border to pray at the altar of the goddess.
On his arrival at the airport, he was greeted with welcoming cries by royalists who demanded the restoration of monarchy and asked the former king to save Nepal from chaos.
As the smiling Shah walked to the temple with his hands folded in the traditional namaste greeting, the crowd swelled, creating tense moments for security forces.
After the ritual was over, the former king and his entourage headed for the biggest hotel in town where he began meeting "well-wishers".
Though parliament abolished the crown in 2008, the action was to have been bolstered by a new constitution scheduled to be promulgated on May 28 this year.
However, with the three major parties in a deadlock, the constitution is yet to be drafted.
Meanwhile, with the statute failing its deadline, a severe crisis looms large. From May 28 midnight, parliament will be automatically dissolved and along with it, the government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal unless the warring parties agree to extend the constitutional deadline.
Despite the magnitude of the crisis, the opposition Maoists, who are the largest party in parliament, Sunday refused to allow the ruling parties to extend the deadline till the Prime Minister resigned and a new government was formed.
The Prime Minister, on the other hand, refused to step down.
Nepal has been hanging on to his post despite tremendous pressure from the opposition, civil society and the international community.
From Sunday, a group of minor parties have said they will boycott parliament after Nepal said he was against the election in 2008 that chose lawmakers to draft a new pro-people constitution.
Nepal said he agreed only due to pressure by the Maoists.