Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
"We haven’t lost, they haven’t won"

Krishna Bahadur Mahara: Why has your party rebuffed the government's repeated invitation for peace talks?
BBC: It is not that our party is not interested in talks. We are serious and concerned about it. We also take note of the Nepali people's wish for negotiations. But the fact is that talks need to reach a conclusion. We have attended two rounds with the old regime, and from that experience we know that they were never serious about conclusive talks. There are clearly two state powers in the country: our new power in rural areas, and the old regime which is confined to urban areas. Both sides should understand this reality.

What will it take to convince you to sit at the table?
The old regime needs to make public the way it sees us, and what it sees as the way out of this conflict. They have to make public their commitments for a progressive solution. They will have to stop the unprecedented military buildup and killings of innocent people in so-called encounters. How can talks take place in such a situation? We need to see genuine political commitment.

There have been talks about a division in the Maoist leadership.
Absolutely not true. We have no differences on either holding talks or continuing the war. There was a consensus for the previous rounds. And if there is an international mediator and we get answers to the questions we have asked, we are still ready to negotiate.

But there have been contradictory statements from the leadership recently.
We have had enemies working against us since the beginning. They were engaged in propaganda and they will continue doing it. It's no big deal.

You say you are for the people but there is untold suffering because of the insurgency you launched.
It depends on your point of view. We don't agree with your statement and we don't think that the people look at things that way. Yes, a few people have suffered and whether such suffering is widespread is a subject of debate. Those who were working against the village people have now come to the towns. Those who left because of their anti-people activities, very few were innocent and we have been telling them they can come back. Many have returned, but there are those who still can't though there aren't too many of them.

The security forces seem to have been successful in finishing off some influential commanders.
We don't feel that way. They can't enter our strongholds without extra security. They are actually confined to their barracks and are losing ground. They stage fake encounters. Yes, some of our commanders and senior leaders have also been killed and that has been a loss, but it doesn't mean we have lost and they have won.

What is your party's stand on elections?
Elections are not the solution to the present problem. It could be a solution for the forces within the old state power. Elections under the old constitution would be a slogan and a precursor for a big war. If we are looking for a solution, we should be looking at elections for a constituent assembly and not for a parliamentary system.

India now sees your revolution as a common threat. Is it becoming more difficult for you?
The Indian rulers have a wrong way of looking at the smaller nations in South Asia. In the name of security, they wish to keep us within their security umbrella.
We don't only want to liberate the people of Nepal from their autocratic rulers but also from interference by Indian rulers. This is nothing new, the Indians have been against us in the past and it will remain so. We believe we will not win the final battle unless we fight Indian expansionism.

Will you then take your war to India?
We are going to India to fight them. India has been intruding into Nepali territory. They interfere with us politically, economically, socially and culturally and that is how they have been exploiting us. Now they are also preparing to interfere militarily. The Nepali and Indian peoples will fight together against the enemy.

Why do you say you will only talk to the king?
We want to talk with the person and institution that holds power, authority and makes decisions. If the government can prove that it has these powers, we are ready to hold talks with them. But the government will have to prove that it controls the king and the army. Power is centralised with the king at present, he is pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)