Nepali Times
"An all-party government is the only way out."

As chairman of the RPP, Pashupati SJB Rana has demanded the resignation of his own senior party colleague, Surya Bahadur Thapa from the post of prime minister. We asked Rana to explain the rationale for his move, about the future of democracy and the possibilities of peace.

Nepali Times: There are allegations that your demand for the prime minister's resignation and an all-party government is just a ruse to get to power yourself.
Pashupati SJB Rana:
Frankly, to me the issue of who is going to become the prime minister is the least important. An all-party government is likely to resolve the situation because we are facing the greatest national crisis since the 1814-1816 war. Unless the parliamentary parties, government or the king, for that matter, do not start working together to resolve the situation then there will be no resolution. Secondly, an all-party government is a return to more normal functioning of government and something that is highly desired by the international community. Once the constitutional forces come together, the Maoists will realise that the time to talk to the state has come and that war is futile. So far, they have been successful in playing off forces within the constitution against each other.

But every time there is an effort towards unity, a huge fight breaks out for prime ministership and important portfolios. Won't it happen again?
At this stage the primary objective is that every party should rise above its narrow interest and its leaders show statesmanship. The Nepali people expect that of the party leaders. If we cannot rise to that level, then we surely do not deserve to be leaders of the parties.

Do the others feel the same way?
Well, I can't speak for the others. I certainly hope that they feel the same way. Things could really fall apart within a few months, that is how serious the situation is, we have very little time left. If we can't rise above our petty interests, there is no hope for the country.

Do you have a concrete road map?
A roadmap would be a combination of consultation between the political leaders, those who are in charge of security operations and a look at the nature of the insurgency. There is a roadmap, but first the parties have to come together.

Is there unity among the parties for an all-party government?
Actually, we have been discussing this with the Nepali Congress or the UML and within our own party for two years now. We know the nature of the insurgency, we know the root causes. At the same time we realise that the negotiating process is a very complex one that starts with confidence building and has got to move through an extremely complex and cautious process to come to an understanding between the insurgents and the forces in power. It is the nature of this problem that one cannot say one, two, three right now. It is not merely understanding the roadmap. It's implementing the roadmap in such a way that you do not lose anybody else's confidence. You have to carry your partners and the insurgents along if you want a peace process that is successful.

People are intrigued that your demand for the prime minister's resignation coincided with UML's meeting with Maoist leaders in India.
No, it wasn't planned that way at all. I had no idea that Madhab Nepal was going to meet the Maoist leaders. He certainly did not tell us about it. Our party has been talking about an all-party government for a long time. The central committee passed the resolution for an all-party government with full executive powers while Chand was still prime minister. So, this is nothing new. The UML has been in favour of an all-party government since the time of Deuba.

If there is no unity even within your own party, how can we expect unity among all other parties?
Every party has agreed that there needs to be an all-party government even though some may have separate agendas within that demand. In fact, Surya Bahadur Thapa himself has repeatedly spoken in favour of an all-party government. But the demand for an all-party government is not new. What is new is that we are pushing this issue to the point of demanding Thapa's resignation. It's just a degree more in the expression of strong affirmation of the need for an all-party government. Thapa has consistently spoken in favour of an all-party government. He enunciated the policy of wider national consensus. If anybody within the Thapa cabinet holds a dissenting view now they are dissenting from their own enunciated previous commitments.

You say an all-party government could help resolve the insurgency. But we had coalition governments in the past that didn't work either.
At that time, the crisis was not as serious as it is now. The insurgency was just starting. Also, the coalition then was a compulsion of the nature of parliament. This time we are talking about an exercise that brings all the forces within the constitution together. It is not about just sustaining a government, this is much, much bigger and broader. To me, a visionary thing.

Is the palace pressuring you into this?
Some people have accused me and the party of being egged on to do this by the palace. From our own party, Kamal Thapa has claimed that we are being guided by the UML and there are some others who claim we are guided by foreign forces. How could all three be influencing us at the same time? At the end of the day, our party is mature and clear enough to understand the nature of the crisis and the needs of the country. We act on our own. We don't need any guidance.

So, where is the missing link?
Thapa set out to create an all-party government. But he soon came to the conclusion that an all-party government and a resolution of the insurgency through talks were no longer feasible. He is now unleashing the full force of the security apparatus to bring the insurgency under control. He then changed his strategy and declared his desire to hold elections instead. We disagreed. Thapa deviated from the party policy of an all-party government. Only then, did we decide to ask for his resignation.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)