All red shirt leaders except Veera Musikhapong are carrying battle wounds despite sitting safely behind the battlelines out of sight of the soldiers. They have, to put it quite simply, shot themselves in the foot.
Leading campaigners of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship only have themselves to blame for making a seriously wrong move against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government.
If only they had agreed to disperse the protest after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reported to the Department of Special Investigation last week, they would have emerged as the winner of the political standoff. The leaders could have told the demonstrators that they successfully forced the prime minister to call an early poll.
In fact, the offer by Mr Abhisit was the best ever since the red shirts converged on the capital in mid-March. And its political arm, the Puea Thai Party, also has a chance to win the election if it comes early. The party remains strong in many constituencies in the northern and northeastern provinces because of the popularity of deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his freebies and populist policies when he was in power from 2001-2006.
A quick return to administrative power is what Thaksin's supporters want to maintain the legacy of Thaksin, among other things.
But that chance had slipped away from Natthawut Saikua, Jatuporn Prompan, Weng Tojirakarn and others who are masterminding the demonstration when they promptly replied with more demands from the government, including making the deputy premier turn himself in to police.
The hardliners in the UDD wanted to corner Mr Abhisit with more conditions, while the moderate camp led by Mr Veera tried in vain to convince the others to stop the rally by accepting the prime minister's proposal.
The hard core members miscalculated that they could press for more from the prime minister after seeing him show signs of compromise. They failed to realise that the momentum was no longer on their side. Their credibility sharply dwindled in the raid at Chulalongkorn Hospital. The army and police were better coordinated and that was proved by the dispersal of demonstrators in the Don Muang area after police were reluctant to join security operations in the beginning. It is no surprise Mr Veera eventually decided to turn his back on the rally.
Now the prime minister's offer of an early poll is out of the question. The time for negotiation is gone. And instead of successfully putting more pressure on Mr Abhisit, all figureheads of the UDD have their backs to the wall following the government's decision to end all negotiation options. The mysterious shooting of renegade army specialist Khattiya Sawasdipol on Thursday is an answer to the red shirts that that is the only solution available now.
The UDD has come up with new calls for Mr Abhisit to immediately quit and not lead the interim government while waiting for the new elections to take place. Of course, nobody in the government cares about these new conditions anymore.
All the red shirt leaders can do now is to keep protesters with them as long as possible as human shields. They read Mr Abhisit's mind that the two want to keep the loss of lives at a minimum.
The government and army learned a lot from the rush to crack down on the demonstrators on April 10. What happened on that night showed that Mr Abhisit and army leader Gen Anupong Paojinda are fighting armed men well equipped with heavy weapons, including RPGs and M79 grenades. The only formula to success is to keep the UDD leaders and security men inside and do anything to weaken them by every means possible from cutting food, water and other supplies to building more pressure on them before the final order comes.
The only condition for the prime minister is to immediately end the rally with no more bargains. It would not have turned out this way had the UDD leaders not made the wrong move.
Saritdet Marukatat is News Editor, Bangkok Post.