Himal Khabarpatrika: You are ready for a new agreement. As of 29 November 6PM, what progress has there been?
Baburam Bhattarai: We're moving ahead. We're trying to find out what we lacked in the 12-point agreement, trying to figure out its kinks and how to iron them out. It is commonly understood that we need to keep the peace process strong while keeping eight-party unity intact.
NC is trying to speed up the entire process by putting proportional representation, the election date and the declaration of a republic into one package.
First, whatever the interim government was instructed to do should be done: a republic and proportional representation. Secondly, care of the PLA, compensation for martyrs' families, a search for those who have disappeared, treatment for those injured-all of which are present in the peace agreement-should be implemented immediately. Third, the merger of the PLA and the Nepal Army has not been started, as mentioned in the interim constitution. And finally, if we are pushing ahead with a specific date for the elections then we should also change the interim government.
Have you talked to Koirala about these points?
All these four points are on our agenda. We have discussed it with Koirala and he has agreed to talk it over and return to us with an answer. As long as the monarchy remains, it will find new obstacles and will not let the elections take place. That is why we need to get rid of the monarchy now. But what the Congress thinks is that if we get rid of the monarchy now, it will lead to problems later. But we have discussed it and we have nearly reached an agreement that the monarchy cannot stay. If a republic is declared, the current deadlock will be dissolved.
Have you become a bit more flexible concerning the proportional representation system?
Right now, the system is only half-representative. What we want and what the interim agenda dictates is a fully proportional system. Not just the political parties, but even the madhesis, janajatis, dalits, women and all citizens should make a collective decision. If we are able to reach a conclusion on the republic issue and are able to solve issues of the comprehensive peace agreement properly, then we must also find a way to solve this problem.
A common view is that even if all these conditions are met, the Maoists will still not be ready for elections.
We fought a 10-year war with the idea of a constituent assembly election. It was because of the Maoists that the elections were included in the national agenda. Now people think that the Maoists don't want to be a part of the same constituent assembly? The Maoists want this election because it will usher in a new political establishment. How can the Maoists not want to be a part of this?
Suppose everything goes according to how you want it, would the Maoists then be ready to have elections within five months?
Of course. If the conditions and the environment for the elections are all satisfactory then we will willingly have elections. Then we will show everyone the power that we have, the same power that we got sacrificing ourselves in the 10-year war. The Maoists will triumph magnificently in the elections. There is no doubt about that.
You have also started to demand reform of the government.
Whatever the interim executive directs, it is the government's duty to follow through. If that happens then the government will be reformed under Koirala's direction. But if the executive's direction is not followed, then the leadership of the government will not rest with the NC. There will be a search within the seven parties for new leadership and the government will be reformed.