(Excerpts from an interview with Chiranjibi Wagle, Nepali Congress dissident leader.)
Q: You contested against Koirala for party leadership at the 9th party convention. How are you preparing for the forthcoming 10th convention?
A: I believe that the leadership should be handed over to the new generation. It was in this belief that I contested for the post of party president at the 9th convention. I believe that Koirala's leadership has already been tested and another five years have passed. Now we are preparing for the village convention. After the village and town conventions, the regional conventions will be held, which will be followed by the district conventions. Only then will the national convention be held. To talk about leadership issues at that time would be ideal.
Q: Isn't your demand of handing power to the new generation going to create problems for you in the cabinet reshuffle that is going to take place soon?
A: I am not going to be in any difficulty. I don't know if it is going to be a problem for others. In the working committee meeting held last Sunday, an agreement was reached among us. Now the implementation of that agreement is the most important issue. There should not have been such a big hue and cry over the names of the party workers. This sort of problem never occurs in any other party, only in the Nepali Congress.
Q: What is the next issue after this? Earlier the issue of free and fair elections at the convention had cropped up and you had asked for a separate system.
A: For this an election committee has been formed. The meeting of the working committee discussed this too. A five-member election committee has been formed, with two representatives from our side and two from the opposing side. The 5th person is Mukunda Regmi, who is neutral and is the chief of the party election commission. That the commission will take care of all issues regarding the election has been agreed to at the meeting. But the issue of party members is likely to crop up and the issue of representatives and observers is also important. For this, my friends and I had asked that these be resolved as per the regulations of the party. Representatives and observers will be sent only after a consensus has been reached. After this, the possibility of having fair elections is very high.
Q: You were a candidate for party president earlier. Were there irregularities then? Otherwise why are you raising the question of free and fair elections?
A: Everyone learns from history. I don't want to get into how the elections were held earlier. The present central committee has dissolved 16 or 17 district committees. Many of the district committee presidents had voted for me at the 9th convention. All of them have been removed. This shows that the central committee wants people who would toe their line. This is why we doubt the fairness of this election. The controversy over the party grassroots members has raised further doubts. That is why we have raised the issue of fairness of the elections. The party president has to guarantee that the elections will be fair. We have established multiparty democracy, vital to which are free and fair elections. We have established the system of free and fair elections in the country and this has to be followed in the different parties too. We want a system of free and fair election not only in the Congress but also in all political parties of the country.
Q: Why are you holding your convention when murder and loot are taking place in parts of the country? Why don't you take steps to solve the Maoist problem before the convention?
A: The responsibility to solve this problem lies with all of us. The ruling party and the opposition are responsible. But the greater responsibility lies with the government in power. Yesterday Bhattarai was in government and the responsibility was ours, today Koirala is in government and the responsibility lies with him.