Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"We carry the king’s agenda"

What difference does the cabinet reshuffle make?
Changing people could result in enhanced effectiveness of the government. The working style could differ. However, the goal and the roadmap of 1 February are the same.

What is the government's present priority?
Municipal elections. After that I have the feeling we will have the environment for general elections.

And holding talks with the Maoists and parties?
We will move ahead depending on how things unfold. If we have the right environment for talks on the maoist problem, our doors will remain open.

What does 'right environment' mean?
The Maoists will have to renounce violence, killings and terrorism and show a reliable commitment to join peaceful national mainstream politics. But the Maoists, who have been using talks as their strategy, have become weak in the last year. If the situation improves for us, they will be forced to come for talks. We can hold talks then.

Does that mean the government has changed its pre-condition that the rebels must give up arms before holding talks?
The issue of managing arms is something to be discussed during talks. The main point is that the Maoists should appear committed to achieving political goal through peaceful means.

But the Maoists have committed themselves to the understanding with the seven parties, haven't they?
We need not focus on that so much because that is not our priority. Our goal is pretty clear: elections. Toward that end, talks and communications are only secondary mediums.

Will the new ministers' council have the same attitude towards the parties?
We will have very cordial relations within the limits of the constitution and the law. We are ready to meet and hold talks with them so that we can cooperate. That is because the parties have not been banned. There is no prohibition on any of their activities. But the main thing is they have to trust the king. He has no intention of establishing an autocratic regime in the country. He is committed to help a wounded democracy and constitutional process to recover and hand them back to the people. The parties are supposed to help if they can. If they feel that siding with the king would make them outcasts, they should remain engaged in their activities peacefully and within the constitution.

By getting party leaders to defect isn't the king acting in bad faith?
The king has not envisaged a situation without parties. He does not intend to disregard and humiliate them. But there remains this truth-the king may have been dissatisfied with the past activities of the major political parties.

Don't you feel odd joining a government without the agreement of your own party?
The first meeting of the RPP central committee after 1 February decided to positively accept the royal proclamation. It also decided that the party would move ahead to hold talks, try to reach agreements and cooperate. The RPP, as an institution, has not opposed these decisions. It was under the same policy that some of our friends in the party joined the government earlier. The DDCs already have RPP men. We joined the government in line with the party's policy. But that does not mean we will be carrying our party's agenda. We will be carrying the king's agenda.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)