Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"The government is answerable to whoever formed it."

Although the constitution outlines the work, the duties and the rights of the council of ministers, the king has issued a five-point list of responsibilities. Don't you think this implies that the council does not exercise executive powers?
After he formed a new council of ministers, the king was responsible for issuing guidelines to it. He holds executive powers, but I don't think it is accurate to say that things have been done in a dictatorial fashion. If the five points were bad, then one could point that out. Those who want to oppose things will say anything. I heard someone saying on the FM that the ministers were in a hurry to get media coverage. Is the media distinct from the government and the people? People talk as they please.

Would this present government have the right to sign any treaty or agreement?
Everyone knows that foreign affairs are looked after by the Foreign Ministry, which is part of the government. So it can easily do so. The subject falls within the five points. There's no question of the government not exercising that right.

What is the stand of this government on resolving the Maoist problem?
To put it briefly, the government and the Maoists have to talk. First, the government has to prepare guidelines [for talks], something the last government was unable to do. The government has to look for a strong mediator, it has to ask civil society for help. Everyone wants peace.

I feel that the individual also has a big role. For instance, let's ask whether the government would look at me and at yesterday's [former minister for Housing and Physical Planning] Chiranjibi Wagle differently. This will definitely make a difference. I'm sure the Maoists will talk to a government which includes Gore Bahadur Khapangi on a different level-they will have to. Because Chiranjibi and Gore Bahadur came into government from different places.

Another thing: we needn't worry if the Maoists continue fighting. That's a given process and will not affect talks. Once the talks begin, the fighting will decrease. Tomorrow, when we sit down for talks, whether their ideas influence us, or our thoughts influence them, we will arrive at a solution. If we only talk about weapons, the peace process will be delayed. When you cut a tree, do the leaves, the branches and the roots dry up all at once? It may take a year for the branches to dry.

There's a price on the heads of the Maoist leaders. Will the government retract that before it calls for talks?
The government remains the government. Only the leadership has changed. Our Rastriya Janamukti Party never recognised the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) as 'terrorists'. Being a representative of the party, can I accept such a definition? There's no question of my stepping beyond the boundaries set by my party. I will put forward my ideas while I am in the government. If the definition of terrorists given by the former government will make it difficult to have talks, then we must think again. The Maoist party went silent after three efforts at talks. That's the direction our thoughts must take.

If the present government-which, according to you, exercises executive powers-agrees with the Maoists to form a Constituent Assembly, will it be able to agree to a plebiscite without consulting the king?
I am not a student of constitutional law. I know that this government is not elected by the people, and that there is no parliament at present. The government is answerable to whoever has formed it. The government will consult with whoever formed it. But if you feel that something is 100 percent right, there's no need to make queries.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)