Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Empty vessels

An interview with former water resources minister and Nepali Congress central committee member, Baldev Sharma Majgaiya. Excerpts:

In what light does the Nepali Congress view recent political changes?

To begin with, there is nothing recent about the political changes we have witnessed, His Majesty's 4 October move and subsequent machinations were all pre-planned. But the Nepali Congress welcomes the ceasefire between the government and the Maoist insurgents. We hope for successful peace talks so that all those who had to flee their villages because of the Maoist violence can return home.

The Nepali Congress workers and supporters have suffered the most during the last seven years. Even ordinary people were punished if they voted for us. We don't want politics to disrupt the talks. With respect to this, the Nepali Congress has postponed a peaceful protest march against the 4 October declaration. However, we intend to make clear that we will not accept attempts, under any pretext, to nullify or make inactive the 1990 constitution.

How do you assess the Maoist demand for (holding elections to) a constituent assembly?
The cabinet ministers and the Maoists are talking about a constituent assembly, but their objectives and motivations are different. The latter have yet to make their position clear on whether they want a constituent assembly with or without the king as part of the deal. If the Maoists relinquish their demands for a republic and accept His Majesty as part of their constituent assembly, why should the nation accept this change of heart? The Maoists should make public their stand vis-?-vis the monarchy, the army, the country's security and palace politics. We are not really against a constituent assembly. But at a time when the king looks like he is trying to consolidate his position, we suspect a constituent assembly could just be a trap to do away with the 1990 constitution. This is why I usually liken discussions on a constituent assembly to
an empty vessel cooking on a
hot fire.

Has the agenda of the Nepali Congress changed?
The Nepali Congress is currently engaged in a campaign to bring the constitution back on track. So our main agenda is the restoration of the dissolved House of Representatives and a functional constitution. We believe all the problems the country faces, including the Maoist insurgency, can be resolved through parliamentary measures.

If the status quo was restored, the Maoists would not have to resort to clandestine meetings shrouded in secrecy with different power centres.

The Nepali Congress is also engaged in the organisation of a nationwide non-violent movement, if the situation demands, with other parliamentary parties to reclaim executive power from His Majesty.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)