Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press

Hours before being sworn in as the Minister for Education and Sports, former senior UML leader Devi Prasad Ojha spoke his mind in an interview. Excerpts:

I don't see any relevance to discussing the royal move of 4 October. The situation has gone too far since then. His Majesty made that move because our political parties failed to play a decisive and effective role.

The communists in Nepal must not forget that our country has got its own characteristics and situation. The UML believes in the constitutional monarchy. To accept constitutional monarchy is the objective reality of our country.

If the role of the monarchy is oriented towards the interest of the country, moves in a constitutional manner and is committed to the people and political parties running the state, then I don't see why it is necessary to talk about forming a republic.

I disagree with the opinion that the present Council of Ministers doesn't enjoy executive authority. As an executive body it must have executive powers, otherwise they would be told they are a commission or a committee. If it is not an executive body, then nobody should ask the government to hold elections and resolve the problem of the Maoist insurgency. What can we get out of these debates when the nation is in flames? Our first priority must be to work together to extinguish the fire.

Personally, I don't mind being defined as someone 'close to the royal palace' or someone who is allied to political forces within the country. But my allegiances never been close to any foreign powers.

I have had opportunities to speak with the king several times. His Majesty granted me an audience recently, after the Dashain vacation. We discussed many issues including the Maoist insurgency, the role of political parties and people's aspirations. I have always felt problems in the country can be resolved through dialogue and talks. His Majesty is aware of my point of view.

I don't see any rationale behind a constituent assembly. Some people demand such an assembly only to satisfy their political egos. It will nobody. They should discuss the obstacles and hurdles in the existing constitution. We can then work towards removing them. Nobody could stop the political changes of 1990. Similarly, if the situation is ripe then nobody can stop the formation of a constituent assembly.

Regarding the issue of holding talks with the Maoists, I think both the government and the political parties should feel responsible towards finding a peaceful solution to the insurgency. We won't reach the right destination if we choose the wrong path. The insurgency won't be resolved unless the Maoists present themselves in a pragmatic and objective way.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)