Excerpts from an interview with Khum Bahadur Khadka, Congress dissident
People say that since you were not offered a suitable ministry you refused to join the government. What do you have to say to this?
I have an answer for people who say that. Prime Minister Koirala removed me earlier from his cabinet after accusing me of trying to overthrow him. I was minister for construction and water resources at that time. These two ministries between them get almost 50 percent of all development money. I was removed from these two ministries. If anyone has anything more to say, then I have nothing to say to him or her. A person who works will be able to work in any ministry. For the development of the nation, the construction and development ministry is the best. Therefore for me the ministry is not very important, the nation, people, democracy and the Congress are more important. For the sake of party unity, I will not only sacrifice a ministry but am willing to do anything else also.
How successful do you think Koirala will be in uniting the party?
A politician must always be hopeful, must believe and hope for the best. There is still some hope, not everything has been destroyed. Senior leaders must get together, act together and take the party and the government forward. If the present situation persists, then the Congress will cease to exist. Right now, some of us may be in the government and some may not, but remember there is only one year left for local elections and national elections are only three years away. We can forecast the results of the national elections by analysing the results of the local elections. In my view, the Congress will be in a worse position. If the Congress loses the election, it will never be able to rise nor will people ever believe it. Every time we come to power, we start fighting among ourselves. For how long are the people going to give us a majority? At the present moment people want peace, employment, security, not Congress infighting all the time. People believe in democracy and they believe that the Congress is democratic and vote for it time and again. The Congress has not been able to use this mandate properly at all. This is the tragedy of the Congress. If we do not get our act together and unite, then the future of the Congress is very bleak.
Who do you think is responsible for the present state of the party?some individuals or the entire party?
I think everyone is responsible to some extent, especially those in whose hands the party is at present. Maybe we too are responsible to some extent. I think it is not correct to point fingers at some people and not accept our share of the blame. The people at the top have to shoulder a little more of this blame. We can only give advice and make recommendations. It is up to the leadership to take action.
Koirala became the prime minister promising good governance, security, the control of corruption and the strengthening of government agencies. You supported him in the formation of the government. What do you have to say of his 11 months in power?
Yes, it is true I supported Koirala in removing Bhattarai and becoming PM. I was a minister then also, but I supported Koirala and resigned from my post. At that time I felt that the government was not able to provide security to the people and Bhattarai was not doing a very good job. There was friction in the government at that time. I felt that if Koirala became the prime minister the security aspect would be taken care of. Not only me, every party worker in the country was looking up to Koirala with great expectations. It is because of these reasons that I supported Koirala. But we were let down on both fronts. After he took over, things have become worse. The issue of security has gone out of the window. We did not think that such a situation would pop up when we removed Bhattarai. We thought that there would be security for everyone and a dialogue would be started with the Maoists. Now, when I look at the decision I made at that time, I realise I was wrong.