Prasanth Aryal of Nepal spoke with Mohan Bikram Singh, secretary of CPN Masal, affiliated with National People's Front, about their anti-federalism movement for the 24 January issue. Translated excerpts below:
Mohan Bikram Singh: Two objectives: first, to make people aware that federalism does not suit Nepal and second, to prevent the country from possible ethnic and regional conflict and disintegration. History will show that our protest is sensible and realistic.
What alternative do you have to federalism?
Unitary system is the alternative. Over 170 countries follow this system, both capitalists as well as socialists. Unitary system should not be a centralised feudal system, but have decentralisation and local self-governance. We want local self governance to be named a fundamental right in the constitution. The local bodies should be freed from interference from the centre. The court will decide if conflict arises in such issues but the government must stay away.
Everyone already believes federalism is the best way forward. How can you persuade them to support a unitary system again?
There is huge public support for the protest against federalism. Survey and public poll results show that people are beginning to oppose federalism. There are anti-republic voice in NC and UML. Public supported our anti-federalism protests, and we didn't intimidate them to support us. This shows nationwide support for anti-republic sentiment.
Communists talk about class. Why do you think the Maoists raised ethnic issue?
This is unfortunate. The Maoists have come forward for ethnic autonomy while the class struggle is supposed to unite them all. Ethnic division leads to conflict and the Maoists are adding fuel to the fire. This is the result of departure from communist principle. That's why they are not true Marxists and Leninists.
Your party and the pro-monarchy RPP are launching anti-federalism protests at the same time. Is this intentional or a coincidence?
RPP has been insisting on referendum, and so has Sujata Koirala of the NC. There has been a realisation that the leadership jumped into federalism without giving it a second thought. Our protests have made people aware of its merits and drawbacks. The Maoists themselves will stand up against federal republic once they face the consequences of what they are advocating for.