Shed Your Egos: Prachanda Tells Agitating Oppn
Nepal's ruling and opposition alliances today traded barbs with each other over the political crisis bedevilling the country, with the Maoists hitting out at the opposition allegations that they were trying to prolong their stay in power.

With no consensus to end the constitutional limbo, the two groups indulged in shows of strength by organising their own rallies and pitting them against each other.

The Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA), a grouping of ruling parties, held a mass meet in the capital today, a day after nine opposition parties led by Nepali Congress and CPN-UML organised a protest rally.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda and senior Madhesi leaders, who addressed the gathering criticised the opposition parties for creating obstacles in the way of consensus.

"It will cost you (the opposition parties) dearly if you don't give up your egos at earliest," said Prachanda warning that this approach would ultimately harm them.

He also claimed that the ruling alliance was not trying to prolong their stay in power as was being charged by the opposition. "The FDRA alliance is not aimed at attaining power," Prachanda said, hitting out at opposition allegations.

"The programme has been organised to float our concerns not criticise opposition parties," he said.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said he was in favour of fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in May-June and blamed the opposition parties -? the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML -- for trying to avoid fresh polls.

"We will drag them to CA elections," he said.

He also disputed concerns that the Maoist-led government was not serious towards providing security for journalists.

"This government is the most committed one from the perspective of safety of journalists compared to earlier ones," the Premier claimed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Madhesi People's Right Forum (Democratic) chief Bijay Gachchhadar accused the opposition parties of being 'anti-federalist'.

Earlier, in the morning President Ram Baran Yadav held consultations with major political parties to discuss the current political situation in the country.

The meeting took place at a time when parties have failed to forge political consensus to form a national unity government. Yadav urged senior leaders to find an solution to the ongoing political impasse through dialogue.

Meanwhile, NC president Sushil Koirala said the ongoing anti-government protests launched by nine opposition parties will help create an environment for fresh elections.

"The ruling Maoist party only know the language of the gun. As they fear an electoral drubbing, they do not want to go for polls," Koirala said, speaking in western Nepal.

"The government is out to finish off democracy and the rule of law," he charged.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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