Nepal PM candidate slapped as public patience snaps

A man slapped prime ministerial aspirant Jhalanath Khanal at a programme.

Kathmandu: The mounting public anger against Nepal`s top politicians for remaining locked in power games and failing to form a consensus government found expression in violence on Thursday with a man slapping communist chief and prime ministerial aspirant Jhalanath Khanal at a public programme.

Khanal was attending a party programme in Itahari town in southern Sunsari district when Devi Prasad Regmi, regarded as a supporter of the leader`s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, clambered up on the makeshift stage and slapped the communist chief on the face.

Regmi was heard blaming Khanal and "leaders like him" for the country`s woes.

Khanal`s aide said police had taken Regmi under control and would initiate action against him.

Khanal was among the political leaders to hold talks with visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Wednesday.

He was a contender for the prime ministerial post after Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned in June and was regarded as being instrumental for Nepal`s ouster after reaching a power-sharing agreement with the opposition Maoists.

But the enmity with Nepal forced him to exit from the race after the Maoists welshed on their promise to support him.

Since then, Khanal led his party, the third largest in Parliament, to sit neutral all through 15 rounds of subsequent elections, which caused the polls to end fruitlessly.

Now Khanal is again seeking to vie for the top job and the week`s time given by President Ram Baran Yadav to the parties to stop squabbling and form an all-party government is likely to expire on Friday without any result.

Thursday`s attack was ironic as the government led by Khanal`s party saw an unprecedented breakdown in law and order with the government failing to take action against crimes, especially those perpetrated by or with the support of ministers and civil servants.

In 2009, a state minister of the coalition government, Karina Begum, slapped a top civil servant five times in his own office, triggering an outcry by bureaucrats.

However, till now, no action has been taken against the errant minister.


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