Nepali Times
Plain Speaking
United we stand tall


A conversation with Maoist supremo Prachanda this week not only brought out the party's new line, but also offered a glimpse into his analysis of current politics and future strategy.

The root of the problem, according to Prachanda, is that the 12-point understanding was 'tactical' for everyone who signed the agreement. "The other side felt they could get us into the mainstream and weaken us. We thought we could use the process to create a new mainstream, which would include political competition." Neither side got what they wanted, entirely. This paradox has forced the parties to make a more fundamental strategic choice. "This was inevitable and we are now heading for a crisis climax."

The army issue is key. Neither side feels it lost the war. Prachanda concedes that no one won the war in material terms, but believes the Maoists won the war politically. "It was the then Royal Nepalese Army's mandate and goal to protect the monarchy and block a republic," he says. "They failed, and the PLA played a big part in bringing about this change." The way forward for these "recognised and legitimate" outfits, he says, is "sticking to the peace accord, democratising the army and professionalising the PLA."

Perhaps surprisingly, Prachanda candidly admits he may have mishandled the army issue while in power. "It was a time when the army was also a bit confused. The king had gone. I could have dealt with the army more maturely. I went to the army HQ a few times and saw the officers, especially the younger lot. I was impressed with their energy. I think there is still some space to make them pro-change."

On the India relationship, the Maoist chairman recognises the need for a working relationship with the Indian establishment. He says, "I have told them the relationship has to change according to new realities. We cannot and will not be like the NC or Surya Bahadur Thapa and it is not in their interest also. They agree in principle but in practice, they cannot give up their control mindset, which leads them to prop up people here."

The Maoist calculation is that the 'nationalism' campaign has served its purpose. It has led to greater awareness about India's role inside Nepal, says Prachanda, and it has positioned them as the only force capable of challenging interference. He believes it has actually led to Delhi becoming more open to engaging with the Maoists.

Most contemporary media coverage has focused on the Maoist leadership's recent utterances and dismissed them as madness. But for the most part, there is a method in this madness - be it to garner mass support, send a message to rivals and constituents, energise the party organisation, or even to set the agenda for the next elections.

More importantly, the rhetoric may be hardline but party actions over the past month have been fairly accommodating. Perhaps there is a connection between the two. The discharge process is moving ahead smoothly. On integration, the Maoists have agreed to the setting up of a secretariat that would be notionally in charge of the PLA and will subsequently implement any agreement. Parliament is open, the government is introducing bills and the Maoists have played along on key issues like the VP oath. On the constitution, views may differ but the process has not been obstructed. And their agitation has been confined to relatively peaceful protests, within the rules of open politics. Blame the Maoists for irresponsible statements, but they are on board in the larger political process.

The Maoists appear to have a multi-pronged strategy. Use the system, monopolise the opposition space, stoke internal feuds in other parties, remain internally consolidated and sort out organisational matters, reach out to their mass base, travel across the country, play the hero and victim by turn, and create a context - by raising the nationalism pitch but also transforming slowly - that will force India to develop a closer relationship with them.

Prachanda is upbeat about his party's prospects. "Believe me, we have done a careful ground assessment and feel that 20 million out of 27 million people in the country are with us. A two-thirds majority is definite." This may sound like hyperbole, but this sense of having overwhelming mass support has given the Maoists the confidence to be flexible in the peace process.

Patched up - FROM ISSUE #488 (05 FEB 2010 - 11 FEB 2010)
"Find the correct balance of pace for both sides" - FROM ISSUE #480 (11 DEC 2009 - 17 DEC 2009)

1. Harka
Well the Proof lies in eating the Pudding...... Problem with PKD is that he speak one thing and does exactly the opposite. We all want peace and just want to get on with our lives, but the netas are more concerned with their own politics...Have yet to see a leader who puts the people and country first. If the Maoist behave in a mature way... Kudos to them... but i doubt it; Its just a sham to get back to power. I believe once in power then only we will see their true face... and believe me its not going to look good.

2. Kiran L
Why is Nepali Times trying to whitewash Prachanda the Gangster? Suddenly this fork-tongued murderer is a good guy for Prashant Jha? This is a psychotic fascist who has now become paranoid about his own cadre bumping him off. You guys in NT were always closet Maoists, admit it. You are getting carried away just like you did during the war when Prachanda was blowing up buses, killing fellow Nepalis. If this guy comes anywhere near power we will be living in a totalitarian people's republic a la North Korea and it will make the Monarchy look like Ram Rajya.

3. jange
NT and Prashant- fooled again by the Maoists. And I bet it won't be the last time either. The Maoists are murderers, looters and extortionists. Their word means nothing at all.

4. Milan
Excellent analysis, as always. I once used to read NT for CK Lal, now it's definitely Prashant Jha. Please keep up the good work!

5. Nirmal
Can you imagine the political uproar that would have mounted the Maoists if Baburam Bhattarai, in their days of cowboy boots(People's war), had gone through this "who is more patriotic phase" of the maoists? Without doubt, he would have suffered the same -home arrest- or worst as he was subjected during their jana-yuddha. Can you imagine what would have gone out of the mouth of Baidhya alias Kiran, the hammer of heretics? What would have said CP Gajurel with his usual crickets around? It is difficult to find a Nepali version equivalent to The Fellowship of Stalin(a lithuanian movie based on Stalin's political friends), the proponent of the powerful and ultra-organization that tried to waive the communist flag with conviction. Baburam Bhattarai owe present democracy his actual freedom. The point is that Prachanda, the leader of the ongoing confrontation with the entire politics, the politician who has based part of his propaganda in the name of "against feudals and the reactionary ideas of the old Nepal", goes, swift and fast, to finger Baburam Bhattarai, to see if he regains some of his lost charisma. He is so desperate to recover his political image, leaving for the time being his never seen ability to reconcile, perhaps convinced that it is compatible to have a crush on his colleagues to secure a good crush barrier for him. However, the intent is very hurtful, it is really painful for Baburam Bhattarai and those who hate dirty politics . First, because we are speaking of the man who has contributed largely to the present shape of the maoists and second because after working so many years together he was treated worst than occasional epistolary friend. I do not know, but I can not stop having a remarkable sense of brutal hypocrisy. That of the double standard, but in its communist version. Third, because the practice (very communist!) to mix hierarchical beliefs with political action is not consistent with a leader who throughout his ideology advocates the emancipation of people . And finally, because this action perpetrated by Prachanda and these communists, is being digested smoothly by the victims is severely maligned in this times of Nation-building, and is considered a clear example of evil ultraconservativeness of communists ie of Maoists. Today, united they stand tall between worsts but anyway they are confused and it is evident that it takes sometime(with efforts) to understand the confusion by them.

6. Arthur
Its interesting to compare the level of Prachanda's analysis and Prashant Jha's insightful reporting of that analysis with the level of the hostile comments. Isn't it rather obvious who is now the mainstream and who is marginalized, complaining from the sidelines and with nothing useful to say?

7. Anonymous
Arthur, you are right. The mainstream is the group that agrees with the Maoists, the sidelined is the bunch that disagrees. Mainstream is the group talking about a bright future

8. Satya Nepali (1)
Nepal's intelligentsia have, in the past, put in very little effort to truly understand the Maoist intent, strategy and ideology. They have gotten by making easy, blanket statements about them. Yesterday they were the Robin Hoods of the poor, today people with outdated mindsets and so forth. Prashant is probably among the first among this agra-panthi who is attempting to dig deeper and accord the Maoists the serious, careful analysis that they deserve. This is a good development. Had our agra-panthi done this sooner, maybe we wouldn

9. Satya Nepali (2)
..However, readers need to realize that Prachanda, clever politician that he is, is using Prashant and NT to propagate more of their propaganda. Prachanda says the "RNA's mandate was to protect the monarchy and prevent a republic". Putting it in this way serves his political purpose. But the real truth is that the RNA's mandate was to protect the 1990 constitution, which defined Nepal as a monarchical state. As the national army, it was their duty to protect that constitution, and in so doing, protect the monarchy as well. Every army in the world has to accept the constitution of the day and act according to it. That

10. rishav
What Mainstream?!!! Majority of people of Nepal well over 80% do not belong to any political party. Their is a culture of "Force," in Nepali politics. The people are forced to Bandh, forced to march, forced to vote if not the nasty YCL/PLA would black lsit you or come knocking to do something to you or your loved ones. I can't just blame the Maoists in this Force nature of politics, the other parties are involved in this practice as well but just not as forcibly efficient, i guess a kind word with a gun is more effective than just a kind word. The innocent poor people in the villages are the one's who have suffered the most during this Maoist Insurgency and all they want is to be left alone. The Maoist in their propaganda of trying to help these people have made their lives a living hell.

11. Satya Nepali (2 remaining)
Every army in the world has to accept the constitution of the day and act according to it. That's what the RNA did. Second trick that the Maoists like to play is this issue of "democratizing" the Army. It

12. SS
20 out of 27 million? only by sheer coercion. but the big picture is this Jha guy has been duped. and so is NT.

13. SS
20 out of 27 million? only through sheer coercion. but the big picture is this Jha has been duped. and so is NT.

14. Prithvi Raj
Prashantji says, "The Maoists appear to have a multi-pronged strategy. Use the system, monopolise the opposition space, stoke internal feuds in other parties, remain internally consolidated and sort out organisational matters, reach out to their mass base, travel across the country, play the hero and victim by turn, and create a context - by raising the nationalism pitch but also transforming slowly - that will force India to develop a closer relationship with them." This statement further accentuates the Maoists

15. Atul Kumar Thakur

Dear Prashant,thanks indeed for a fleet dwelling with the very important nexus of Maoists and their chauvinistic revival in Nepalese politics..I can't ruled out your views outrightly on this matter although my take is somehow different.I would start with reminding you the Maoists are lagging behind in their basic intent to be a true radical force in Nepalese politics by enormously fuelling the discontents about freindly neighbour inside the country and now it very viciously creating an intra party feuds.So,how a serious invetigation may let allow them to pronounce their superstitious and incomplete ideolgy in the political affairs...if intellegencia's of Nepal are not being able to conceive the seriousness of situation than it's not less than fatal.Being an avid peace wisher in Nepal..its my dream is to let people thinks about their self as today its not forseable from any party to forge a high minded people centric moves;action rather than proclamation and warning would fetch a crediblity for Maoist camp.

                                      Atul Kumar Thakur,New Delhi  

16. Niranjan Korala
Excellent and refreshing analysis. Agree 100%with Prashat.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)