Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Revolution from cities

You've had some success in 10 years.
We were successful if we achieved our dream of liberating this country and people.

So many people died due to your 'People's War'. Do you feel burdened by the crimes committed in your name?
People have died anyway. They have died of hunger, and disease. In this case people died for liberation. Nepalis are not poor bahadurs, gorkhas and foreigners' soldiers any more, they're now seen as people who fought for liberation. Such recognition is no an ordinary feat, and comes from the sacrifice of 10-12,000 people.

It wasn't a sacrifice for those who died due to you and your army. Don't you feel responsible?
Look at history, the French revolution, the British revolution, American civil war, and revolutions in Russia, China. Hundreds of thousands of people died. Think about World War II, millions. Compare all that to the sacrifice of just thousands. (Hastily continues) We have to look at the great work we have achieved.

You don't you feel any sadness at all thinking about the deaths of so many? Of course, I do. Does anyone feel at ease about killing? Never. But due to certain circumstances, sacrifice is necessary for social transformation and advancement.

Have you ever been on the front?
We made the war plans, provided training, monitored.

Have you been on the battlefield, armed with a gun?
Well, I'm too old for that. I have not participated directly in the war. I'm over 50, but if I were young, I would have.

Has anyone died at your hands?
No, not by me or the chairman. But we take moral responsibility, as we made plans which got people killed.

The Maoists have intimidated, killed, made the poor suffer. Those with a reputation for corruption weren't touched.
Our strategy was to start with small-time local thugs. We gradually moved from the villages to towns and cities. By the time we were planning to attack the 'big fish' in the cities, the peace process started.

But you admit that poor villagers suffered immensely while those who ruined this country got away scot-free?
No, it got better for villagers. Women can talk freely now, dalits no longer have to bow down to higher castes, farmers don't fear landlords.

Let's talk about some of the people you killed, like the teacher in Lamjung.
If we made mistakes, we've have managed to improve. Mistakes happen while undertaking great work.

You consider Girija (sic) a leader and joined the Jana Andolan under him. But when he said the king should be given ceremonial space you seemed furious.
Not furious, sad. We accepted him as a leader following the 12-point agreement, and trusted him to lead the loktantra campaign. Now he's close to losing the goodwill he'd earned. We hope that doesn't happen.

Have you had any contact with the palace?
Not at all.

You've had absolutely no relations with the palace?
Never, we don't find it at all necessary.

You won't lie to millions. Can you tell them right now whether you've had any talks with the palace?
Our party members never met the king. A month before King Birendra was killed, his younger brother Dhirendra said the king wanted to meet us. A party member who met Dhirendra was asked why the political situation had not been solved. He said that the king was worried.

Will the Maoists go back to the jungle?
We were never in the jungle, but among the villagers.

So, you will not return to the villages?
No, we will now stay in the city because the future movement will be city-centric.

Will you go underground again?
No, we will stay among the people and start a revolution through them.

What will your government do on citizen's rights?
Today, not everyone can exercise their rights. We will ensure a large-scale change. They will have more rights once we come to power. For example, we will ensure free medical aid, education, and unemployment benefits.

What about foreign policy?
We'll ensure our bilateral policies with neighbouring countries are mutually beneficial, and have diplomatic ties with all countries. We will have new treaties. But we will not allow foreign diplomats to dictate who should join the government and what policies it should adopt.

Why the new silence on Kalapani, the 1950 treaty, and Indian expansion.
We can't bring up these issues whenever we like.

Does your party still consider the Indian government expansionist?
Certain policies of the Indian government are not in favour of the Nepali people and nation.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)