Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal spoke to Himal Khabarpatrika this week about the political deadlock with the other parties, the disagreements within his party and prospects for the peace process and constitution in 2011. Excerpts:
PICS: MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
Himal Khabarpatrika: What is the reason we have this political deadlock? Pushpa Kamal Dahal: Two schools of thought are on a collision course: one that wants to weaken the Maoists and another that says the Maoists should not be isolated. That is at the centre of the deadlock. The status quoists and reactionaries could never digest the fact that the Maoists became the biggest party. They think that if the constitution is written the Maoists will be dominant for the next few decades, and some reactionary foreign power centres support this view. There is a campaign afoot to weaken the Maoists.
Can you explain it a bit so we understand: who are these reactionaries and status quoists? (Laughs) It will be difficult to state this categorically. In our view those who rely on outsiders to bolster their position instead of making the national interest their priority are status quoists and reactionaries. The progressives and agents of change are those who give priority to Nepal's independence, national interest, and want the country to be treated with equality and respect by foreigners. We can see some of these reactionary tendencies within NC, UML and even within our own party.
Really, even within your party? I wouldn't say there are status quoists and revisionists within our party, but there is a debate about these tendencies. Even at the Palungtar Convention, one of the main debates was about interference by foreign reactionaries. Since the republic was established there has been collusion between domestic reactionaries, mercantile capitalists, lackeys and feudals with Indian monopoly capitalism. In our party, one side lays slightly more emphasis on nationalism and the other side a little more on people's democracy. There are feudal residues still around, but as long as democracy is not strengthened we won't have true sovereignty.
In Palungtar your colleagues accused you of economic anarchy and nouveau riche tendencies. Yes, there was that accusation, but it wasn't directed at me. Certainly, there has been some class upliftment within the party. I referred to this even in my document, as did Kiranji and Baburamji.
Who is trying to make you weaker? The NC mainstream and the other parties haven't yet come around to support our agenda. If they identified with state restructuring, right to self-determination, social justice and autonomy, their relations with the Maoists would not be so bad. These parties were under the misconception that they could force the Maoists to toe their line. We were united against the monarchy, now we disagree about the kind of new state structure we want. This can't happen by weakening the Maoist party. We emphasised state restructuring, and this brought us into a confrontation with mainstream traditionalists. We felt that with the end of the monarchy there should also be an end to Indian neo-colonialism.
Why are you getting closer to the monarchists, then? We understand that there are two types of monarchists: one that will kowtow to foreigners, and another that is on the side of national sovereignty. The monarchists who are close to the Maoists are mostly nationalists.
You talk about national sovereignty but during the war you spent your time in India. Yesterday you were against the king, today you hobnob with his supporters? Firstly, we were not in India because of its government, we were there because the Indian people loved us. In fact the Indian government chased us down, detained our cadre and handed them over to Nepal. The recent book by Bibek Shah mentions that the Indian Army gave us training in Dehra Dun. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it raises questions about the veracity of the rest of the book. I used to go back and forth while underground, but towards the end of the war I moved our headquarters to Rolpa and Rukum because I felt the revolution would be completed if I stayed on. India helped with the 12-point agreement, but I had proposed that the agreement be signed in Rolpa, not in Delhi.
You have been accusing Baburam Bhattarai of being pro-Indian, and you yourself are accused of being pro-palace. The real debate within the party is between nationalism and people's democracy. This is normal within a communist party. We shouldn't, and haven't, been accusing each other of being pro-palace or pro-Indian. But if you are out to save our nationalism, you will automatically be pushed closer to yesterday's monarchists. It is also not correct to go around saying India is our main enemy. We are just against the cohabitation between Indian monopoly capitalists and Nepali feudal capitalists.
Isn't it contradictory to support ethnic and territorial federalism and be against pluralism? Not at all. In today's reality we are for multi-party competition and federalism. Federalism reflects the citizens' need for linguistic and cultural identity within the framework of multi-party competition. Our philosophy is not pluralism, it is socialism and communism. Some are trying to force us to accept pluralism, how can we do that? What if we say the new constitution must accept communism. Will NC agree to that? To try to force us to agree to pluralism is to ask us to abandon our ideas, our philosophy, our ideals. We are for a dictatorship of the proletariat, however long it takes.
Are you dragging your feet on demobilisation of your fighters and constitution-writing? This is the main political disagreement right now. We are not dragging our feet. The CPA states it very clearly: the Maoists are a political force with an army, and for lasting peace the old army and the Maoist army should be integrated into a new army. The power to say this comes from the Maoist army's ability to fight a ten-year war. What we need now is for the Maoists to accept the other political forces and the others to accept the Maoists. If that happens, integration will be easy and the peace process can be concluded. We are willing to hand over command of the cantonments to the Special Committee, we are willing to regroup and divide up our forces between those for integration and rehabilitation. But the other side is not ready for this.
Why do you need UNMIN so much? At the beginning of the peace process, we felt the gap between us and the parties was too wide and we wanted the UN to have a role. If UNMIN leaves, the constitution, peace process, arms monitoring, all will have to be altered. We only have five more months. We are worried that to chase out UNMIN at this time may lead to the disintegration of the peace process. It is clear that the gurus of the ruling parties want UNMIN out.
The quarrel is about who becomes prime minister when the constitution is written and the peace process is concluded. Right? No, the main quarrel is about whether or not we take into account the reality of the integration of armies. The task force I headed fixed a lot of disagreements in the constitution. If there is political will, the constitution won't be a problem. The main quarrel is between those who want peace and those who don't. If the Maoists are accepted as a power and are integrated with respect, everything else will fall into place.
Will the parliamentary session bring a new government? I think there can be an agreement. There must be. There is no other way.
And as an observer I think there can be no any agreement unless and until chairman take seriuosly following prejudicial effects
You canot kill a fly with a barrel. It is so simple that it does not need further explanation.
2nd Going through his interview and photo session in situ. I must say that Prachanda finally does not control the situation. His lack of skills for verbal and no verbal communication is so palapable that it further deteriotes the image the Maoists supremo had before. His facial and oral expressions are full of confrontation, indifference, no watch and listen attitude ie no collaboration. 3rd needs a bit more explanation
It has been seen these days, publicly pinched Bhattarai in the Maoists, and Prachanda behaving as an aggressive player who takes the fall of his rival to give a kick in the liver. These types of deduction, common among Maoists men, respond to the saying "think wrong and youï¿½ll be right." But distrust is sometimes so bad analyst as overconfidence: only a fool would pretend, seeing the position of UCPN Maoists,, humiliate its own public image. It is not very lucid to imagine Prachanda wasting in the first moments something he will need for at least five years more, If he wants to be in open politics: a good relationship with Bhattarai. But on the other hand, Bhattarai these days seem to be opting for temporal exercise of restraint and prudence inside and outside party red walls. His men have, BY THE TIME, started denouncing North Korean style revolution, it's better differences are seen when there is a competition than repressed, no Democrats? And at the moment he has proved to be clear that the CA victory is not enough to impose their so desired revolt on the strength of WHOLE TIMERS. He knows that the special circumstances of time (failure to write the Statute; discredited BIG 3; increasing social unrests; and more importantly the internal crisis that has left the Maoists in flagrant contradiction) have discouraged the host port of voters with different sensibilities to get into the maoists band. Thus: Does it not require Prachanda & Co. to drive a party that expresses the unique plurality of its own party structure in the first hand and the votes they received and can receive in possible future? But seeing their definition on pluralism we can only expect long-rang mutations of the Maoists party, perhaps the most brutal one in the history of multi-party system in Nepal. It is useless to tell the maoists what really pluralism is. Theyï¿½ve confused it with the political offers that the NC and the UML threw all these last years.
Prachandaï¿½s leadership (an act of pendulum between Baidhya and Bhattarai) translates to perfection all corners of repressed and primitive sentiments of nepali nationalism (except Republican). If Mohan Baidhya Kiran represents the compatibility of the communist feelings national and international, PLA is the mineral, raw materials. The different accents of conservatism ( Gajurels, Chand etc ) coexist with Karki, Poudel etc with the theorization of revolution and counter-revolution. Embodied in the Prachanda path, Bhattarai is there to get disenchanted by the party response to the statute. The logical end of peace process and the completion of the consitution have collided with the obvious: the rest of the Maoists party (except Bhattarai) gives a damn to the Peace process and constitution.
Bhattarai naturally embodies other features. Almost everyone praises his competence. It would be nice, however for Prachanda, to analyze his crucial role, the construction of a cosmopolitan course no antagonistic for the absorption of PrachandaPath. Over the years, behaving with the majority of experts and scholars, Bhattarai will lead the economic vision of political culture whereas archaists in the Maoists party will remain where they were during Lenin or Stalin era. There are no substantive differences between the vision of Prachanda, Baidhya and Bhattarai In line with their so called revolution; all emphasize the political factor, not economical creation. However, Iï¿½m pretty sure Bhattarai has realized culture as an engine of politics to start with.
Incorporating Baburam Bhattarai under the shelter of democracy is like an echo of what, in times of Puspa Lal meant, the approach of an important group of intellectuals trained in the old school did everything to call him traitor of communism and made his life impossible in spite of his defence to idea of peopleï¿½s democracy and naya janbaad. The most colourful political outcome of this operation is the current fame of Puspa lal himself, but this time it is Baburam Bhattarai, a student of Jawaharlaal Nehru University and the one who has been complaining that he is being treated as another Puspa Lal.
Time is running Chairman out of your collective misery and this time there is no instant formula.
01 JAN 2011 | 8:16 PM NST
Time is running out. People have lost hope. Darkness has descended. People are trapped. It is the collective failure of the people in the power and the opposition. If you knew what national interests are, the constitution would have been drafted months ago. The happiness, that we had, as the general people of Nepal, when the peace process was brokered has now evaporated in a mist of disbelief and disdain. I am sorry to note that the leaders are still talking big, some thing that is utterly foolish and quite far from the national interests that these people talk about.
02 JAN 2011 | 5:59 AM NST
It is important that everyone understands what Mr.Dahal is talking about as reading Mr.Dahal's exclusive interview is clear that there is still a lot to learn .
I quote 'Two schools of thought are on a collision course: one that wants to weaken the Maoists and another that says the Maoists should not be isolated.
Are you living on the same planet Mr.Dahal or would you like to live on different one?
Mr .Dahal,do you really believe that the quantity is a measure to measure the strength of your party and the devotion of people to your party ideals.Few examples from the well known history,former USSR and the rest of East European countries and their only ,communist parties were destroyed within few days time,one just needed to go to the election pole and put the tick marks in different boxes and people mostly didn't even know who they were voting for,just were asked to do so because they knew someone in the village by the name and so was your parties numbers blown up by surpressing and threatening people.If you do remember the history of China and what was the difference in structure,economy.The example of cultural revolution in China is similar to your parties idea, but you must also know that economical structure was different in China comparatively to other communist countries of that time.Do you really think that China's success is because of Communist party,you are not even close to understanding.
There is nothing ideal in life,so please when you say' they ask us to abandon our ideas, our philosophy, our ideals. ' keep in mind it is better to have strength to abandon the idea that doesn't work ,because if it is proven not the best idea for all people .it must be not a good idea as ideas are usually short lived,,specially if you can not implement it ,so were promises to people you recruited in for your so called PLA,however it is proved that you started by looting people,threatening ,pressing them to make donations.Where are your human rights understanding and ideals and philosophy here????????????????
A question about the philosophy,it is good, if each of us has his own point of you and it is good if you have followers ,but your philosophy must not disturb other people's lifes,don't you think so?So where would be your famous phrase ' right to self-determination ' implemented ,if you accept only your way as a way.
'We are for a dictatorship of the proletariat, however long it takes. '
The office or tenure of a dictator. A state or government under dictatorial rule. Absolute or despotic control or power .The power of the working class. It is called a dictatorship because, while implementing the broadest democracy for the working people, it uses force whenever necessary to suppress the resistance of the exploiting classes and the activity of elements hostile to socialism.
The whole world is against any kind of dictatorship, but your party under your leadership still builts plans about dictatorship.Don't you think that your ideas are a century too late ,however I do understand what you mean by writing a new constitution as we all need a constitution where rights and laws and duties are equally acceptable to all human beings and this is where you could really contribute as you seem to be a person of ideals ,however there is no only one right,we are talking about human rights and that is what is important to keep in mind.
Our philosophy is not pluralism, it is socialism and communism. Some are trying to force us to accept pluralism, how can we do that?
I would advise you to properly read about the different types of pluralism and what they mean and most importantly.I think people in your party and your followrs need to be explained what pluralism means because even Mr.Dahal himself is not clear about many topics we had a priviledge to read .Thank you for sharing with us your views and I hope that common sense and responsibilty will prevail.Yes,your ideal may not be pluralism,however it is the choice of millions of Nepalese,so you can have your philosophy and live by it ,however,do not go to your neighbour and do not tell him how to lead his life,let's first clean the rubbish next to our own doors,however we will have to write constitution so that people with different opinions and views do not go looting neither you nor me.Equal Human Rights for everyone.That is where you must focus your attention if you really care.
And ,yes ,we all have taken up a problem ,integration of PLA.I like to remind you again,it is you and your party members who gave promises to people when you recruited them,looting and killing people ,confiscating their properties ,but you knew very well,one day you will have to keep your promises,as it can not go forever and therefore the idea about UNMIN came up,as it is an international organization helping misplaced people during the war and the bargain you got by pushing again these innocent PLA people in front of you,Safe way out for your image!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!However ,it is a huge compromise made by the opposition parties because everyone understands that those were an innocent and ignorant people in the middle of the conflict because of your inability to keep open mind,inability to compromise for the higher ideals of every human being,and keep the communication going .
What we need now is for the Maoists to accept the other political forces as opposition parties have long time back accepted you as a party with differnt philosophy,however if your party wants development and progress in the country and for the people,you must cross half way of the bridge,but again,every discussion with you starts with conditions.That is called barganing not compromising.
02 JAN 2011 | 3:25 AM NST
As far as I know, Kiran is correct in suggesting that the word "pluralism" is hard to find in any constitution around the world. If that is wrong could somebody provide an example?
I am still not sure what is meant by this word in Nepali politics. It seems to be a code word or jargon like the use of "democratic" to refer to the anti-Maoist parties.
A variety of influences over the state should be allowed at any given time, so that a number of patronage networks can tap into its resources, thus allowing a wide number of social groups to benefit. And an unofficial and mostly unstated rule holds that no government should be allowed to stay in power for longer than a period of, say, two years (even though the formal rules may state that a government can stay in power for up to five years) for that would make the party in power unacceptably strong. The parliamentary system is thus ideal. The prime minister occupies a fundamentally precarious position here as he almost certainly has come to power as a result of a coalition in parliament of several parties with significantly divergent backgrounds and interests. The dissatisfaction of one or two coalition partners is thus sufficient to bring the government crashing down. If this is not sufficient, the head of stateï¿½formerly the monarch, currently, and possibly in the future, the presidentï¿½who, using certain emergency provisions in the constitution, can act as a check on the prime minister's ambitions.
The article frames the issue as though the corrupt parties of old Nepal are fighters for "liberty" while the revolutionaries are for "order". Despite that absurdity, the key concept of Nepali style pluralism seems to be well explained with the words:
A variety of influences over the state should be allowed at any given time, so that a number of patronage networks can tap into its resources,...
Naturally people who want to maintain their "liberty" to loot are willing to share the loot among a number of different patronage networks. They hoped that the Maoists would become one of those networks and were reluctantly forced to part with a share of the loot.
They feel genuinely outraged that the Maoists seem unwilling to accept even a generous share of the loot but insist on actually ending the traditional Nepalese system of using the state to share resources among patronage networks and instead using the state to develop a new Nepal.
Related constitutional issues like ensuring a weak parliamentary form of government and opposing a US or French style directly elected executive all seem to be tied to ensuring the state cannot easily be mobilized for development in the interests of only "one" section - the poor who live on less than $2 per day, but will continue to be influenced by the many patronage networks that depend on looting it.
Is that a correct understanding of what is meant by "pluralism" in Nepal?
03 JAN 2011 | 4:54 PM NST
Had India not decided to use Prachanda for its own ends and turned him "from a mouse into a tiger" he would probably have made his career as a small time goonda in a provincial town in India or Nepal.
However, now that India has decided that he should go back to being a mouse we are seeing the transformation process and this interview is an example of that.
Prachanda is not a politician- just a goon with some slogans. Seen from that viewpoint this interview makes sense.
04 JAN 2011 | 8:28 AM NST
Nam matra ko agreement le dikka vaye! (I'm fedup with namesake agreement.)