Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"We tamed the Maoists"


Your own colleagues said they were against the cooperation with the Maoists in the special session.
They didn't say that when they spoke to me. They must obey the party's decisions. They shouldn't speak in support of the Congress, instead they should be happy the UML proposal was adopted.

Hasn't the parliament's proposal made elections even more difficult?
The peace process won't progress unless we take the Maoists along. The UML bears the responsibility of not letting the Maoists return to the jungle. If the Maoists are against elections, we can never be with them. Our proposals have helped the election process, not harmed it. We averted the possibility of the Maoists quitting parliament, and the Maoists are now convinced that the peace process is the only way forward.

But how can the proposal be implemented without the NC's consent?
That consent has to happen. You can't talk about the parliamentary process and not follow its directives. The NC has the responsibility because it is leading the government.

So how come the proposal to declare a republic at the first session of the constituent assembly, to which the UML had earlier agreed, not moved forward?
I just don't know. No one discussed it with me.

The Maoists have said they will exert pressure for the proposals to be adopted. What will be the UML's role in it?
If it is peaceful, there can't be any objection. But if anyone tries to disturb the elections, we will oppose it. We will take it up in parliament, in government and in discussions among the seven parties. We're not taking to the streets.

All this has created uncertainty about elections ever being held.The prime minister is responsible for the postponement of the April date.
The Maoist leader Prachanda is responsible for the postponement of the November date. And Sher Bahadur Deuba even said elections should be postponed. We don't know who will be responsible if elections are postponed again. But maybe we'll find out soon enough.

So there is a real confidence gap among the seven parties?
The NC and the Maoists need to have a working relationship. Both have to figure out why they don't trust each other. We aren't happy with the way the NC is running the government either. They interfere even in our ministries, security is deteriorating, crime is on the rise, development is at a standstill. We think there should be improvements.

Is that why there is talk of a leadership change?
I don't want to get into that now. That time hasn't come. But parliament has sent a message, and the government should take it into account.

The message is that the NC doesn't have a majority. This means the prime minister also doesn't have a majority. There has to be complete change in governance. If not, you can guess what will happen.

So there is a crisis in the alliance?
We don't want to weaken the alliance. But unity means taking the country forward. Unity is for progress not to take the country downhill.

What is more important for the UML, unity with the Maoists or the seven party alliance?
The seven party alliance is most important, left unity comes within that. We are close to the NC in basic democratic values, we are close to the Maoists in seeking fundamental change in society

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)