Excerpts from an interview with Padma Ratna Tuladhar
Nepali Jagaran, 23 April
The various meetings between the Maoists and the palace have led many to believe that democracy is in danger. What do you think?
I do not think democracy is threatened, because the king is a constitutional monarch. There are questions being raised concerning changes in the constitution. The prime minister has met the king and discussed deploying the army. Everyone knows he is keen to have the backing of the king in this matter. If everyone remains and works within the parameters of the constitution, then it is all right. Once they go beyond those parameters, people will protest. Until now the king has not crossed the parameters.
Of the Maoists and the government, who do you think is more sincere about coming to the table for dialogue?
There is a problem-we have to be very careful, we just cannot answer this question. Since we are involved in facilitation, we have agreed not to bring out in the open the issues raised by the sides that are to come to talks. Both sides must prepare to be flexible to some degree in the meetings. Otherwise not much can be achieved. We cannot take sides and say that one party is more flexible than the other.
How do you analyse the prime minister's address to the nation? The people think it was quite strong.
In the context of the dialogue, we have taken that speech in a positive manner. Whoever the prime minister may be, the person in the office of prime minister continues to raise the issue of a dialogue all the time. The deputy prime minister, too, has called for talks, time and again. Even Prachanda, in his latest speeches, has said that dialogue is the only way forward. He too seems in favour of having a dialogue. Since both the sides are keen on it, we hope that they will come to the table and sit together and solve the problem in a peaceful manner. This is what we believe in and wish would happen.
Would you like to say anything else?
The people of the country want dialogue to be held very soon, as soon as possible. Before we have a civil war on our hands, we should come to the negotiating table and start talks. Until the possibility of talks is explored, the army should not be mobilised, and the Maoists should refrain from escalating their attacks. This is what the people want and both sides must take this seriously. We will help in whatever way we can.
Excerpts from an interview with Lagu Dhan Rai, nominated MP
Saptahik Bhugol 23 April
As a nominated member of parliament, what are your views on the political situation in the country?
The country is in a very bad state politically. The situation is going from bad to worse. No one besides His Majesty seems to be concerned. There is another government outside Kathmandu. The government at Singha Darbar has not realised that Nepal exists outside the Valley too, and this has made matters worse. Outside the Valley, police posts are being destroyed rapidly, people are being killed in large numbers. Elected representatives are being asked to vacate their positions and reactionary forces are moving into the vacuum they have created.
How do you analyse the opposition parties' demand for the resignation of the prime minister?
This is a political demand. But not letting parliament function, stopping traffic and destroying public property is not the way to go. One must work through constitutional measures.
What can be done to deal with these problems?
The main problem now is the Maoist insurgency. The second is unemployment. The Maoists have become very destructive. The situation is such that now one cannot ask "who is a Maoist," but must rather ask "who is not a Maoist". The government must go in for a dialogue, there is no other way. The mobilisation of the army will be detrimental to the nation, it will destroy the nation. The army must not be mobilised at all. The question on many people's minds is why the army should be used to kill another Nepali. If His Majesty had used the army in 1990, then what would the situation have been, what would have happened to all the leaders who are today in the political spotlight? This is a political problem, a problem of beliefs and ideology. Since nothing positive has happened in the past 10 years, people have become frustrated and have moved to the other side. Since the king believed in democracy, as soon as 20-30 people were killed, he was hurt and disturbed, and agreed to having multiparty democracy. The present leaders are different. More than two thousand people have died but the government is not worried at all. It has not been progressing much on dialogue.
Will you tell the same to His Majesty?
I will place this before the king. But our advice will not be taken seriously. The main advisor to the king is the prime minister. The king has to listen to the PM. But the prime minister has not taken any steps to solve this problem. He does not take any advice, or even listen to any that is offered. In a parliamentary system, parliament is where all problems are listened to ard and then solved. We nominated MPs are neutral. We only speak in the interests of the nation.