(Excerpts from an interview with Madhav Nepal, General Secretary, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist)
The ruling party holds that Maoists lack political character and therefore at a time for dialogue, numerous reasons are given to hinder talks.
Because of the political character of the Maoists, the ruling party has an opportunity to say this. This does not however mean that there aren't any honest people among the Maoists. There are people in that organisation who are for building of an ideal society, for establishing a republic and people's government, for providing direction to the country, for providing equality and justice for all, for an end to foreign intervention in our country's affairs, and for upliftment of the poor.
Could you clarify some of the issues and wrongs in the Maoist line of thinking?
First of all let us discuss the new society that the Maoists want to create. Are other parties going to enjoy the same amount of space and freedom in that society? Is everyone, and every political party going to be treated equally? Is everyone going to enjoy the same fundamental rights? Are political parties going to be allowed to present their line of thought and action to the masses? Can they counter the wrong thinking and actions of Maoists? Can they go to the people? Can they meet the masses? Are the Maoists ready to accept criticism?
We say all these should be allowed. These are the rights of every individual. The Maoists have to make all these points clear, spell out their answers to these questions. They should not be bent upon destroying anyone who does not toe their line. We have protested against the negative actions of the Maoists. We have criticised them to help them understand what is wrong with their actions and thought. The Congress is another issue. While we provide constructive criticism, the Congress tries to capitalise on those very issues and gain political mileage. The Congress is not keen on seeing problems solved, and therefore sees nothing good with the Maoist revolution. We have been telling the Maoists to rectify their actions and enter the political arena in a proper way. We are prepared to help them in whatever way is feasible. We think that this is the only way the nation can benefit.
Will the Maoists rectify their mistakes and take corrective action?
If the Maoists desire the creation of a new society, want communist movements to benefit, provide new direction to the nation and society, want to rid society of all exploiters, want people to lead better lives and want a better country, they have to give up arms. They have to move according to the wishes of the people and the country. At present, they seem to be more of a terrorist organisation. This has helped the Congress in committing more crimes against people.
The villagers are caught between the police and the Maoists. How can they be freed from this situation?
The country cannot accept the terrorist behaviour of either the Congress or the Maoists. Both of them will have to rectify their mistakes. Both have a very narrow vision and line of thought and action. The Maoists smash the hands of villagers who wipe out Maoist slogans from the walls of their houses. If the slogans are not wiped out, police move in and torture these villagers. Therefore, villagers are caught between the frying pan and the fire. The Maoists who call themselves communists are acting like the police. The people's army cannot behave in the same way as the police.
The Maoists have brought to the fore the problems of the country. How do you view this?
It is true that the actions of the Maoists have highlighted many problems of the country that had remained hidden till now. Now that the country has taken notice of those problems, if we could use this opportunity for the benefit of the nation it would be very good. The country needs drastic changes, not minor face-saving changes.
The Maoists are attacking and destroying all their opponents. How is the UML going to counter that?
To think that one communist party will fight against another is the thought of reactionaries. We do not want to fight with anyone or any particular party. We are prepared to fight any party politically, in the political arena, but if some party wants to destroy us physically then we will have to rethink our line of action. We will be forced to act accordingly if anyone acts against us, and we will react to it in an appropriate manner.
In 1991, Congress workers in Gulmi were attacking our party workers. We asked our followers to retaliate, which they did. We were forced to take that decision. If a situation arises where the UML is forced to form an army and fight the Maoists, it will only benefit the reactionary parties. They will be very happy. We want a political solution to the Maoists problem. We want the Maoists and the Congress to come to the negotiating table and find a political solution. We want to fight against the evils of this society and nation and not fight any other political parties. The attacks on our followers are raising problems for us, and we are really bewildered by these attacks. If this does not stop then we will have no option but to retaliate. Then this country will be another Peru. In Peru, communist parties are forced to raise their own armies, are forced to fight back. We do not want the same situation in this country. We believe that the present crisis cannot be solved with guns.
What is the reason for UML's opposition to the Armed Police Force?
If the Maoists are prepared to sit down and find a political solution to the problem, then the formation of an armed police force is not a step in the right direction. Arms will not solve the problem. The police will acquire more arms and the Maoists will do the same. Where will all this end? Only arms dealers will benefit. Nepalis will fight and kill themselves. Nepalis will be the losers and this will lead to the start of a civil war. The only solution can be through dialogue; a political solution must be found. The formation of the Armed Police Force is the work of some insidious elements in the Congress. We do not want the start of a civil war in this country. That is why we oppose the formation of the APF.