Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
"The NC has lost its right to lead the government"

Naya Patrika: What is the message from the voting in parliament on Sunday?
Ram Bahadur Thapa:
First, the people want a republic and full proportional representation. Second, the government and other conspirators are bent on not letting these two proposals through. Third, some international powers are still trying to prop up the monarchy.

It's clear from the past 10 years of people's war and the 19-day people's movement. Why didn't the Congress support a republic then?

Why not?
Ask them. If they were for a republic they'd have voted. They say republic but don't want it, it's double standards. Congress doesn't really want a republic but it can't say it out in public.

Tell us point by point, what should the government do?
After Sunday, the Congress has lost it's right to head the seven-party government. If they still want to lead the alliance they have to correct their mistakes. They must obey parliament's directives to start the process of declaring a republic and fully proportional electoral procedures right away.

Let's say the government doesn't do that.
The movement will continue. If the government doesn't follow parliament's instructions, we have to set up a new interim government. But we are trying our best to keep the six parties united so that regressive forces and international powers can't take advantage. Sunday's voting has polarized the politics, but there is still room for agreement.

Are we seeing the countdown to the end of Koirala's prime ministership?
He said in parliament he would not let the alliance fall apart and expressed his commitment to a republic. So it may be too early to say.

And there was a lot of dissatisfaction within the UML about the voting?
That is an internal matter of the UML. But the voting did show left unity and a victory for the progressive wing of the UML.

Is your party trying to increase contradictions and usher in an October Revolution?
The October Revolution was a progressive and positive step, but reactionaries are presently trying to label it terrorism. They are trying to break the alliance and isolate the Maoists. But the special session of parliament made that unsuccessful. There was a lot of wheeling and dealing and open interference by reactionaries to break UML-Maoist unity. They were even getting ready to celebrate, but they failed. Therefore they will attempt an even bigger conspiracy now.

What kind of conspiracy?
First, to split the alliance. They will try to prevent the government from following parliament's directives. They will say this is only moral pressure, it is non-binding. There may be more terrorist attacks and criminal activities.

You are regarded as a hard-liner within the party and you are for armed struggle?
The media has begun labelling us hard and soft-liners. The International Crisis Group reported this a long time ago. This is a dangerous conspiracy. This is an effort to bring a split in the movement: to label someone moderate and another a Pol Pot or Bin Laden.

Are you saying there is no disagreement within the Maoists?
As long as there is a party there will be struggle and counter-struggle. If there are no disagreements we wouldn't exist. There has been disagreement and serious debate even about the 22-point agreement. But there is a conspiracy to label one side stupid and the other wise and tolerant. We leftists believe in resolving our disagreement through interactions and consensus.

What is your personal view about India's role?
There can't be a personal opinion. Which India are we talking about: the Indian government, the Indian people and the various nationalities and classes? There is one class in India which wants to keep Nepal under its tutelage and there are parties which say India's border is the Himalaya. And then there are the people who support the liberation of the Nepali people and their war. A symbol of the asymmetrical relationship is the treaties. We want them scrapped.

But you didn't have any problems with India's role in the 12-point agreement?
During the war, India sold Nepal Rs 3 billion worth of arms. Those weapons were used to kill Nepali people. History is witness to the fact that the Indian ruling class tried to put down the people's movement. They abet the capture of border territory, the tarai violence and unequal treaties. Still we are dependent on India socially, geographically and culturally.

RIM and COMPOSA are dissatisfied with you.
Not true. You are right that some friends in RIM and COMPOSA aren't happy with the path we have taken. But our relations are stable. During the war we had no relations with India and China. We are now developing our diplomatic ties.

Are you still on the path of armed rebellion?
We aren't using the word rebellion. We are on a peaceful path, but if they don't allow us to do take the revolution forward peacefully, if they put up legislative obstacles, and if they use crackdowns, then our response will also be violent.

Finally, you think elections will happen in 2064?
If parliament's directives are followed, they will. Otherwise they won't. Then the madhes and himal will rise up. The oppressed classes, regions, genders, languages and ethnicities will rise up.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)