Kathmandu: More than two years after the abolition of monarchy in Nepal, deposed king Gyanendra is still regarded as a threat by the ruling parties, who have sacked an influential regional leader for inviting him to inaugurate a Hindu temple.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal`s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) sacked Amar Yadav, a powerful leader from Bara district in the southern plains.
Yadav sent a four-day invitation to the last emperor to tour the Terai on a "dharma yatra" (pilgrimage) that started Wednesday.
The invite created a controversy, especially after media reports that President Ram Baran Yadav, who replaced the king as the head of state in 2008, had been keen to inaugurate the Vaishno Devi temple in Parwanipur town.
However, the temple management, headed by Amar Yadav, invited the former king.
On Wednesday, Gyanendra inaugurated the temple and is now on a pilgrimage that will cover two more Terai districts.
The controversy snowballed after a defiant Yadav said he supported the demand for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion.
"I am a Hindu first and a communist later," he was reported as saying.
The UML professes not to believe in any religion and supported the call for a secular Nepal in 2006 after nationwide opposition to King Gyanendra`s bid to assume the reins of power with the help of the army.
When UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal became prime minister last year, he took the oath of office and secrecy, saying "I pledge" instead of taking the traditional oath in the name of god.
This is the former king`s third public outing in the plains, dominated by Hindus, since his ouster and the continued welcome given to him by royalists and traditional Hindus is a cause of concern to Nepal`s ruling parties as their own popularity plummets.
There is growing public anger against the parties as they continue to fritter away time bickering over power.
They failed to write a new constitution in two years and have now wasted a month of the extended one-year deadline without coming any closer to an agreement.
While Nepal refuses to quit to make way for a new, all-party government that will also include the opposition Maoist party, his chief ally, the Nepali Congress, is now seeking to lead the government with three contenders for the premier`s post.
The Maoists, who say they should head the government since they emerged as the biggest party after the elections in 2008, are also facing an internecine struggle for leadership with their supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda facing criticism for his failure to topple the government.
Now the third biggest party in the ruling alliance, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik) headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, is also pushing for the top job, saying it will intervene if the major parties failed to reach an understanding soon.