Baburam Bhattarai, Politburo Member and Chief of the Foreign Relations Department of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) replied in English to written questions sent last week by Nepali Times. The Maoist leader replies forthrightly on issues such as the royal massacre, future of the peoples' war, policy towards development aid and trade, the Nepali monarchy, and the "donations" his party is raising from businesses. Following is an unedited transcript of the faxed response:
Nepali Times: After six years of the peoples' war and over 2,000 Nepalis dead, do you think it has been worth the price paid so far?
Baburam Bhattarai: Though it is anachronistic to attach a "price" tag to an epoch-making revolutionary process in terms of human casualties, we feel the "price" paid by the Nepalese masses so far in the six years of the people's war has been rather on the lower side. Such "prices" in genuine revolutions are paid in millions, and not in thousands. Do you remember the French Revolution? Considering the power and prestige gained by the poor and oppressed masses of the Nepalese countryside during the past six ye ars, the "price" paid for has been definitely worth it.
NT: Is your armed struggle going to be a continuous strategy or do you see the real possibility of that ending for, say, a negotiated settlement?
BB: Whether the armed struggle will be waged till the very end or not, depends not on our pious wishes but on the objective and subjective conditions of the revolution, particularly on the policy of the ruling classes. Our openly stated goal is the total state power for the oppressed masses. Nothing more, or less. Will the reactionary ruling classes hand over state power through a "negotiated settlement"? You should ask them.
NT: The government says your party is not serious about dialogue, how can we be convinced that you are?
BB: Our Party has time and again expressed its readiness for a meaningful dialogue if the government creates a conducive atmosphere, at least by making public the conditions of the more than 200 "missing" persons from the government custody, among other things. But the government has repeatedly backed out of it. Rather, it has resorted to more fascist measures like the promulgation of the so-called "Public Security Regulations 2058 BS", which practically negates all the fundamental and democratic rights won by the people in 1990. So how can you blame us on the question of dialogue?
NT: So, do you see a possibility of the CPN (Maoist), as was the case of the JVP in Sri Lanka, being a powerful parliamentary party?
BB: No, the CPN (Maoist) is not the JVP of Sri Lanka. There is absolutely no possibility of the CPN (Maoist) turning into a parliamentary party. That would be a great betrayal to the revolutionary aspirations of the masses.
NT: Your party has put forward the theory that Indian and US intelligence agencies conspired to encircle China. Is that a credible hypothesis to explain the palace murders?
BB: That is not our "theory", but an objective fact, acknowledged by US imperialists and Indian expansionists themselves. You should read the CIA-sponsored reports that forecast China as another superpower by 2025 and the main rival to the US. Also, you should recollect the much-discussed statement of the then Indian defence minister George Fernandes that China was the main danger to the security of India. Everybody knows the hasty ganging-up between the US and India, specially after the collapse of the USSR, primarily designed to encircle China. In this changing global and regional geo-strategic calculus Nepal occupies an important place due to its geographical and historical setting. Hence the imperialists and expansionists would not tolerate any regime, political force or leader in Nepal that refuse to dance to their tunes. They are dead scared to the prospect of a Maoist communist revolution in Nepal, and King Birendra had to pay the price with his life for his liberal attitude towards the people's war led by the CPN (Maoist) and for his traditional closeness towards China. This is the hidden truth behind the palace massacre on June 1, 2001.
NT: Also, isn't it premature to declare a republic in Nepal now, especially after the genuine and spontaneous display of support for Constitutional Monarchy in Nepal after the royal tragedy?
BB: It is not premature but rather too late to declare a republic in Nepal. The institution of traditional monarchy has collapsed, partly under its own weight and partly under the pressure of the imperialist and expansionist forces. It is just ridiculous and historically out-dated to attempt to raise another monarchy for the benefit of the imperialists and the expansionists. The spontaneous mass protest after the murder of King Birendra and his entire family was primarily against the conspiracy behind the killings and partly for King Birendra's liberal attitudes and patriotic leanings, and not in favour of raising another fake dynasty. That is why our Party, the CPN (Maoist), has called for institutionalising the newly born republic, which is gaining wide support among the people all over the country.
NT: Many genuine and honest Nepali politicians, education and development workers have been attacked by your party just because they don't agree with you. Is that the future you are looking at for governing the country?
BB: This is a canard spread by the enemies of the people and the country to malign the ongoing revolution. We challenge you to prove with facts such baseless allegations. When the whole purpose of the revolution is to establish genuine people's democracy, or a New Democracy, for the overwhelming majority of the people, how can we prosecute somebody just because he disagrees with us? Please be assured you will enjoy more democratic rights under the New Democracy than you are enjoying today.
NT: And do you think the approach (of suppressing dissent) will be sustainable especially when openness and debate are values Nepalis regard highly?
BB: The "openness" and "debate" you talk about today are monopolised by a miniscule majority of the privileged and the opulent classes, and the vast majority of the people are totally deprived of them. The ongoing people's war is meant to ensure such "openness" and "debate" to all such deprived masses of people, and not only to the privileged few. Hence be assured that the New Democracy, or the people's democracy, will be more "sustainable" than this fake democracy you see today.
NT: You have not attacked tourists directly or targetted tourism, but it is being hurt badly by publicity of the insurgency. Once tourism suffers, hundreds of thousands of Nepalis are going to be affected. Why are you out to wreck the economy?
BB: This is another sinister propaganda fanned by the enemies of the revolution. It is quite amusing that the reactionary ruling classes who have wrecked the country and the economy beyond repair are accusing us of the crime they have shamelessly committed. Are we Maoist communists responsible for reducing the country to the second poorest status in the world? Are we responsible for the rampant poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, inequality, backwardness and corruption? Are we responsible for the industrial decline, trade deficit, debt trap and foreign dependency? When the whole economy is sluggish and declining because of retrograde production relations, how can only tourism flourish?
NT: Related to this is a question on the puritanical drive your party is enforcing to ban alcohol, or the demands like the nationalisation of schools. Do you really believe such actions will be sustainable in the long run?
BB: Please do not mistake us to religious fanatics like the Taliban. Our guiding philosophy is dialectical and historical materialism. We have no agenda of puritanical fads like the alcohol ban. Of course, we occasionally launch campaigns against social evils like alcoholism, gambling, prostitution, pornography, etc. Please note that campaign against "alcoholism" is not the same thing as "alcohol ban"! As regards to the question of nationalisation of school education, everybody would agree that this too is no "communist" agenda. When most of the advanced capitalist countries have nationalised school education, why should not a poor country like ours do the same? If you agree that education is not a privilege but a right to every citizen, it is only logical that the state should provide equal access to education for everybody. This is not only "sustainable", but a must for every civilised society.
NT: You advocate national industry and end to multinationals. Can this approach be defended in the age of economic globalisation? Or is your aim to create a state like North Korea? You are also said to be raising "donations" from the same industries you oppose.
BB: If your are familiar with economic history, there is no separate age called the "age of economic globalisation", but only the age of imperialism. We are in the age of imperialism for the past 100 years now. So we need not be over-awed with the imperialist propaganda of the so-called globalisation. And we have only said we are for self-reliant economic development, like all the developed countries are. Self-reliant development does not mean an anarchic development. Self-reliant development is not only sustainable, but it is the only economic development model that is sustainable. And why should you pose North Korea as the only negative example? Are not there more than 100 countries, that too are very "democratic", which are much worse off than North Korea economically? Is not North Korea or Cuba much better off than the banana republics patronised by the World Bank or the USA? As regards to the bogey of "donations" from the industries, we could certainly like to break the monopoly of the reactionary forces to raise taxes from them and make a much better use of them.
NT: The little we know of the NCP(M) economic and development strategy is what you wrote in a booklet Politico-economic rationale of the Peoples' War some years ago. What is your present policy regarding the economy, development aid and trade?
BB: The basic outline of the New Democratic economic development strategy is provided in the booklet cited by you and other documents of the party. To recapitulate it very briefly, we intend to usher in vibrant, self-reliant, independent, balanced and planned economic development in the country primarily through a radical land reform programme based on the policy of "land to the tiller" and national industrialisation. Our basic thrust would be to completely dismantle the retrograde semi-feudal and semi-colonial production relations in agriculture, industry and trade, and to develop a new type of national capitalist relations oriented towards socialism. We would definitely maintain trade and financial relations with all the countries in the world based on equality, mutual benefits and national needs.
NT: Where is the "peoples' war" headed from where we are now?
BB: Given the acute crisis faced by the ruling classes and the rising mass support for the revolutionary forces, the people's war is definitely heading towards greater success in the days to come. If the current trends of staggering military victories and surging mass support continue, the revolution will achieve final success sooner than expected. Of course, the danger of external military intervention, particularly from Indian expansionism, is also looming large. But we are confident, ultimately the people's war will triumph.
NT: What support and links do you have with fraternal revolutionary parties elsewhere in the world and in what ways are they helping you in your struggle?
BB: We enjoy good political and moral support from all the Maoist parties and organisations of the world, particularly those united in the RIM (Revolutionary Internationalist Movement). Also we enjoy moral support from many other anti-imperialist and anti-expansionist forces in the region.
NT: What is the committee you have formed for South Asian Maoist coordination expected to do, launch a South Asia-wide struggle?
BB: Yes, a Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) has been launched on July 1, 2001 to unify and coordinate the revolutionary process in the region. As South Asia is developing into one of the post potent volcanic centres of revolution in the 21st century, this initiative of CCOMPOSA has been very timely and significant. We are all strengthening and expanding CCOMPOSA which is destined to play an historic role in the South Asian region.
NT: How are your present relations with the communist parties in Nepal: the UML, ML and the nine smaller left parties?
BB: We have a good working relationship with all political forces in the country which are opposed to anti-national and fascist Girija Koirala and Gyanendra Shah cliques. We are trying to further consolidate that relationship.
NT: Can you give us more details of the "contact" with King Birendra, through Dhirendra Shah, which you had mentioned in your previous statement?
BB: Yes, Dhirendra Shah had approached us on behalf of his brother King Birendra, to express concern about the impending danger from Indian expansionists and to try to build an understanding among the patriotic forces in the country. Our Party representatives had several rounds of talks with him. It would be historically important to record it publicly that, in his last meeting with our representatives just weeks before the royal massacre, Dhirendra Shah had expressed danger to his and other royalties' life. This is one of the concrete proof we have about the larger conspiracy for the royal massacre on June 1, 2001. History will definitely unfold the real truth some day.