Excerpts from an interview with Bam Dev Gautam, Nepal Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist
You have said that even Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has helped the Maoists. What is the basis for that remark?
Did he not help them in the guise of conducting a dialogue? He released a lot of Maoist activists from prison, saying this would help build an atmosphere conducive to dialogue. Isn't this helping them? Did he not withdraw the very policies implemented to control them? The people in general and we ourselves only help the Maoists when they aim their guns at us. We do it out of fear, while they happily agreed to help the Maoists. These are the examples I have. If innocents are going to be killed, the prime minister should be the first person to face the bullets.
Your analysis of the prime minister is different from that of others, who say he is a staunch, open and honest democrat. So what exactly is he like?
I do not know what others have to say. Deuba's biggest achievement was bringing the Maoists to the negotiating table peacefully, which Girija Prasad Koirala could not do earlier, when he was prime minister. Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was not capable of doing that earlier, either, and no one else tried. Even I could not do this when I was deputy prime minister, nor could my government. But we must analyse this seemingly positive step taken by Deuba. There is no doubt he did something positive, he made the Maoists stop their illegal activities and come to the negotiating table. He believed them to an extent that other people did not. A person hurt badly will take revenge, whatever the fallout. The nation will suffer because of this. On the issue of how democratic he is, he is as democratic as we are, so it is not necessary to sing his praises on that count.
Is there any way the Maoists can enter the political mainstream other than through violence?
I still think there is a way for them to enter the mainstream. I believe that they cannot be controlled through the use of force-even in ten years. We must not forget that what they have raised are political issues, and the problem has to be solved through political means. Sometimes their military forces increase and sometimes decrease, that is another matter. We must tell the Maoists using force will not get them anywhere. They have to come to the negotiating table and find a political solution. The government must immediately start bringing about political, social and economic changes in the country. Only on the basis of such changes will we be able to convince the Maoists to return to the negotiating table.