Nepali Times
"Constitution by 27 May"


With two months to go before the mandate of the Constituent Assembly expires, despite major hurdles, the political parties have made progress on both the peace process and constitution. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai spoke to Nepali Times on Monday about the challenges in the next 60 days.

Nepali Times: How has the last seven months as Prime Minister been?
Baburam Bhattarai: It has been challenging, but I am doing the best I can.

But you have come under a lot of criticism.
The criticism comes from heightened expectations. Perhaps, I have to do more to meet those expectations.

You had promised to lead the country out of the transition phase by completing the peace process in three months.
Yes, but I also said it required a national consensus which unfortunately we could not forge. With the other half of the stakeholders in the process sitting in the opposition, I cannot single handedly move ahead. I am doing my bit to gain their confidence but they also have to be equally willing to cooperate.

What about your own party members taking to the streets against you?
I admit there are serious political and ideological differences within the party right now. We are trying to talk to Baidyaji and other comrades and take them along. But this will not change the party's commitment towards peace and constitution. I appeal to all citizens and friends of Nepal not to fall for any statements made by individuals.

What about your quote in the media where you supposedly 'threatened' the country with another war if the constitution is not written?
I am really shocked about how my statements were quoted out of context, I was pointing out the potential dangers of a political vacuum. The war was not personal, it was against the system, it is unfair to demonise individuals. Remember, out of 16,000 that died, most were Maoist cadres. Does anybody question the brutality of the state?

The UML says it is impossible to complete the peace process as long as you are in power. They want you to resign.
Those who are demanding my resignation forget they were in government for almost two years before me, and not a single task of the peace process was completed. In seven months, I made sure the cantonments were emptied and today parties are at a point of no return on the peace process. So let the people be the judge of my performance.

But you have not been able to curb excesses by your own coalition partners?
I cannot make decisions based on what comes out in the media. I look into matters and wherever necessary take action. But these are official decisions and I will not make public statements in favour or against anybody.

And why was it necessary to give Rs 20 million to your chairman's son's expedition to Mt Everest?
It was not the first time the government had taken such a decision. This one became an issue because it involved a particular individual. Personally, I may agree or disagree about it, but there was widespread protest and the team decided not to take that money. Let the issue rest there.

Deadlines have come and gone, when will the integration process begin?
We are at the stage of integration process where only a few issues remain. The final work on integration will begin very soon. We are also making final preparations to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a commission to look into cases of disappearances. Once these two tasks are completed, the peace process will make a quantum leap.

Will the TRC and Disappearance committees be formed before 27 May?
Definitely, the integration and formation of these committees will take place simultaneously. We have almost finalised the basic structure of the commission, once it is completed we will pass the bill and the commissions will take shape. This will happen before 27 May.

It looks like the form of governance and federalism will deadlock negotiations on the constitution?
The constitution reflects the political power balance in the country. So no party is going to have a constitution of its choice. We have to find a middle ground for which every side has to compromise. On forms of governance, I think there will be a sharing of power. And on federal structure, we have to compromise on the number of federal units. I am sure parties will come to that point soon.

By mixed sharing, do you mean directly elected executive? Will that be a president or a prime minister?
I think in a country like ours we need a directly elected executive. We have made this proposal but the NC and some other parties have reservations about it. So my guess is, we may have a directly elected president with a prime minister elected by a legislature parliament. That could be a compromise.

What about the disagreements regarding ethnic federalism?
It has already been agreed in the legislature parliament that the basis of federalism would be both identity and economic viability. So these are unnecessary disputes, and there is no point in raising them.

In our previous interview with you in August last year, you said we only need a 'moment of sanity' for consensus, has the moment arrived yet?
In multiparty politics, one has to have patience to bring diverging interest groups to a common platform and that takes time. But we are moving in the right direction and a new constitution by 27 May is possible.

1. FG
"Remember, out of 16,000 that died, most were Maoist cadres. Does anybody question the brutality of the state?"

Really? Dr Bhattarai? I guess you guys include all those you used as human shields and those forced to join you as "Maoists". Secondly, the state did not come to kill you, it was you who first declared and started killing the state forces. That means the reason for the death of all those 16 or whatever thousands is you, not the state.

2. Shree Shrestha
How to Resolve the Present Crises in Nepal?
By: Shree Shrestha
1. Publish the Constitution as is and will be completed and ratified by the newly elected members of the House of Representative and the National Assembly.
2. Dissolve the interim parliament and go for fresh election for the President and the House of Representative. The President should be elected directly by the people of Nepal for 1 term of 4 years. Members for the House of Representative should be elected as one per 100,000 people rule. In case certain ethnic groups in the certain area are less than 100,000 people they should still elect one representative. This way each and every ethnic group will be represented in the House of Representative. The members in the House of Representative should be for 3 terms of 2 years.
3. Form the National Assembly of 75 members to represent 75 districts. Members should be selected from current interim parliament. The person who received most votes in the last election in the district should be the representative of that district. If that person is not available the person who received second most vote from the district should be selected. The term for each third of the members should be determined by the lottery for 2, 4 and 6 years. This way every 2 years we are electing 25 members for the National Assembly. The members in the National Assembly should be for 1 term of 6 years.
4. Form the temporary government under the leadership of the current President.
5. Cabinet members should be decided by the percentage of party representation in the current interim parliament. The cabinet members should not be member of the National Assembly or the House of Representative. There should be one Minister for each Ministry and one Assistant Minister for each department.
6. Federalism should be put off for now. But rename the current 14 Administrative Zones to Tharu, Lumbini, Bhojpur, Mithila, Abadh, Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Newar, Limbu, Kirat and others.

3. KiranL

This pathetic interview just shows that Baburam the leopard has not changed his spots. He is still blaming the state for violence when it was his obsolete ideology that led to the deaths of 16,000 Nepalis. And for what? So he can sit in Baluwatar coddling murderers, and his boss can have a swimming pool in a villa in Lazimpat?

4. Nirmal
This is a very good interview for people like us to opt for the strong objection in order to fight the resounding victimhood that the Daktar Baburam Bhattarai and his batallion whose hands are stained with the blood of thousands are propagating. Manchhe marna uksaune daktarsap just clarify us the following things before May 27:

1.How you and your party think to bridge the growing gap between the 90% of your phantasmagoric communist militants and the much more diverse electorate of Nepal?

2. Having just one third of representation secured how think you and your party will garner the other 2/3 rd support to validate your plan of integration of the Maoists guerillas and finally draft an agreeable constitution to all sides, including Baidhya faction who will never accept anything less than xerox copy of historical old communism?

 3. Is the concept STATE CAPTURE envisioned by your whole gang till the date is just a tactical threat or an aspiration inalineable that can not be waived? Because had it been for an organization sans extreme violence in its curriculum vitae, the question would not have raised any significance of such importance.

I know that daktarsaap and his party have many support of gaunbata bharkhar jhareka editors and journalists( without any spirit to offend it is a figurative sense to describe the ignorance and futile energy in cosmopolitan language of KTM) but we all know very well that one cannot fool all the people all the time. As in recent decades Nepal has enjoyed the works pretty run-of-the-mill produced by print journalism, radio and television, it has become more important not to participate in the bet of maoists' radicalism and archaic values of the society that the Maoists and their likes have tried to spread. Then only we will be able to isolate this violent minority through institutional measures and pugnacious citizenry. We cannot forget that the party of which daktarsaap is an influential leader tried to undermine the human integrity.

5. Pramod Thapa
Wow ... can you get a load of this B S.  You cannot believe the Maoist thugs. They are the ones who started with the killing and looting and extortion, it is still going on to this day. The  C A must be disolved. This will remove the burden of the 595 odd numbers of CA members. Nepal cannot afford this nonsense. The Maoist can go back to Rolpa. Vaidya and Dahal and duke it out in the jungles. Nepal alerady has a constitution. There is no need for another one. India also needs to stop this dangerous dance, or things will backfire. People are sick of being sick. Just get that in your heads. If India wants peace, it needs to stop coddling the Maoist. Its not very complicated , you know.      

6. Bikas Lama
BRB -  Lair  Lair  your pants are on fire.  The Maoist will fight the Maoist. Let the games begin.  

7. Mamata Pandey
BRB and PKD are false communists. The Maoist are splitting because of this reason only. India has way too much control over BRB and PKD. Both of them can be compared to lap dogs of India. This is an open secret. Nepalis should never believe or trust the lying commnists. 1990 gave us a Constitution. It can be amended. We should be wary about people that want a new Constitution. Too much time has been wasted already. Dahal will never be the President of Nepal. A new day will dawn on May 28th. It will be a good day for Nepal. Nepali people are watching and learning from the countries in the Middle East.  We now have I pads and Blackberrys. Facebook and Twitter. For the sake of Gopal, we are living in the 21st century. We are a tech savvy generation. Just look at gap.   

8. Urmila Sharma
The Nepali people need get up and start moving our butts.  The time is here to wipe the slate clean. This old generation of UML and NC leaders and the looters in the Maoist leadership has to be wiped out. They have failed us time and time again. Just run out the clock, no more CA. We can have new polls and a new day and a new group of leaders that are smart, have a vision, tech savvy and proud to be a Nepali. Come on people, its time to clean house.  

9. Shankar Sharma
Do not believe any more lies from the duo Dahal and Bhattrai. There is a 7 point program, why can't they abide by it. N C , UML and the Nepali citizens now have the upper hand over these Maoist murderers. If the C A disloves, then no more Maoist in power. No one will vote for crooked coummunists of the Maoist Party. The Maoist will split and disintegrate in a pieces.  India should also be aware that Nepalis are fed up and will not tolerate any more meddling. Dahal should pack his bags for soon he will go from Lazimpat to his village. Vaidya will make sure that happens.  

10. Dinesh Gautam
thanks...however, i think the interviewer doesnt look confident in asking the questions...and his english doesnt sound professional...hope he will improve next time. Cheers, Dintam

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)