Slap for Nepal politician sparks Internet campaign
Kathmandu: A Nepalese man who slapped a politician in frustration at the lack of progress in the troubled country has sparked a popular Internet support campaign after striking a chord with fellow citizens.
Devi Prasad Regmi, 55, hit the chairman of the UML (Unified Marxist and Leninist) party across the face at an event for new members last Thursday, later telling reporters he had been overcome by a sudden fit of anger.
He accused Nepal's politicians of "destroying the country" -- a charge that has won him mass support in the blogosphere. A website set up in his name carries messages of support from hundreds of Nepalese well-wishers.
"Devi Prasad Regmi is a brave son of Nepal. The slap was not just for the party chairman, but for all the other party leaders too," posted Surya Kumar Nembang on the site, www.deviprasadregmi.info.
One posting on a Facebook page set up in Regmi's honour said he had "acted for 30 million Nepalese" when he struck UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal, who stood for election as prime minister last year.
Nepal has been without a government for more than six months because of bitter disagreements between the political parties.
Sixteen rounds of voting in parliament have failed to produce a new leader and the lack of leadership is hampering development in one of the world's poorest countries.
Work on drafting a new Constitution intended to draw the line under a decade of civil war has stalled, and optimism after the end of the conflict in 2006 has given way to a growing sense of frustration.
Chiranjibi Paudel, a columnist in the Nepalese-language newspaper Naya Patrika, said the incident was an expression of widespread public feeling.
"Devi Prasad's slap is a symbol of people's revolt. It can be stopped only if the leaders ensure peace and make sure that the constitution is drafted in time," he wrote.
Regmi was arrested and detained, but has since been released on bail. He reportedly faces a charge of disturbing the peace.