When Prachanda joked

The Federation of Nepali Journalists, which has been criticising the government for the PM's attempt to "sabotage" the Thapa investigation, is dominated by a left alliance with Maoists, and is obligated to the current government that has sanctioned Rs 30 million for its office constructions. Protests are more like rituals, and mild compared to their aggressive lobbying under the royal regime. Yet, mass fury is palpable, and spurts of unorganised protests for Bhattarai's ouster indicate the revolutionaries of yesteryears command neither respect nor fear. There are demands for probes into corruption cases involving the high and mighty. But the message the Maoists are sending is this: impunity complements revolution. Any protest is called "regressive campaigns by reactionaries".

"As prime minister I have foiled the counter-revolution," Bhattarai told a gathering of supporters in Kathmandu on Friday. But his opponents are growing, and even the EU and the US appear to be repentant for their earlier support to the Maoists and Bhattarai. They are aiming at an election to a parliament so that the constitution-writing process is revived and politics gains a little legitimacy. However, the Maoists are determined to suppress any protest. As protests become widespread, this further weakens Nepal's democracy and stability.

yubaraj.ghimire@expressindia.com

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