Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"We will protect democracy"


Where is the country heading with a Maoist-led government?
So far, the government's achievements were based on consensus and the support of the international community. But the Maoists have opted to discard the idea of consensus. The country's politics and peace process are heading in the wrong direction. Political stability and democracy are not possible without economic development. And economic development cannot be achieved unless we are all united.We have lost that chance to work together. The Maoists are now saying that democracy and communism should be fused and socialism is a product of such a fusion. But if you take out democracy from socialism, we will only have communism. The Maoists are taking the country in the wrong direction by claiming to implement an ideology discarded by history.

The NC has still not nominated its parliamentary leaders. How will such a party be an effective opposition?
We have set up a committee which will monitor the activities of the government. The party will not lose its standing, but we need to focus on being more aggressive and vocal against Maoist activities, among other things. We have to go among the people, not just sit in our cosy rooms.

Do you really think that the future of democracy is in danger?
Democracy will never be in danger, but we should be alert to protect it. Consider the present budget: it is too ambitious and could invite anarchy. They are creating a situation where they will eventually be able to blame NC for the budget's failure. They want to disgrace democracy. We have to be strong and make people aware about this. The Maoists are trying to extend their tenure and I suspect that they are trying not to finish the constitution within the stipulated period.

We have to turn their attention towards formulating the constitution, and that may require protests and demonstrations from the people. Otherwise, there will be more anarchy.

Do you feel that the Maoists have deceived you?
They wronged us most during the presidential election. For example, they had agreed to make Madhab Kumar Nepal the president, but dismissed his candidacy in the end. When the UML turned its back on us at the last minute, I chose Ram Baran Yadav. We talked to other parties, won their co-operation. They betrayed us again during the government formation process. We had asked for the defence ministry but the Maoists did not agree. Later they called me to have a discussion but by then I had lost my trust in them and chose to stay in opposition.

Do you take responsibility for the weaknesses of the government up to the CA elections?
I don't want to rake up old issues. If we get entangled in them, how will we move forward?

What will the future of the Nepal Army be?
I am completely against politicising the army and I feel that the political parties and the parliament should be alert to such a situation. The Maoist combatants can only be integrated if they qualify according to the standards of the army.

What do you think about the idea of federalism?
We started the peace process and established Nepal as a republic peacefully. Now we have to formulate the constitution. The question of federalism must reflect the unique Nepali identity. Geography and development should be prioritised as the basis for federalism.

What do you feel is the achievement of your political journey?
I brought the Maoists into the peace process. The NC holds the credit for this achievement. When the parliament was dissolved, I was the only one who said we could reinstate it. Many thought I had lost my mind, but I made it happen.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)