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Nepal: The struggle intensifies; interview with Prachanda
Editorial, Red Star, newspaper of the CPN (Maoist), October 24-November 7, 2008
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is going to hold a party congress at the beginning of 2009. The decision to hold a party congress has created much interest among the common people as well as party leaders, cadres, sympathisers and well wishers.
Along with debating about the federal democratic republic with multiparty competition, the CPN (Maoist) has initiated a great debate within the party. This is a new experiment; the party has allowed a two-line struggle in the form of a written document before the commencement of the congress. Historically, different opinions are allowed only in party congress. It clearly shows that CPN (Maoist) is in a strong position to conduct its two-line struggle in a well-organised way. This is a new experiment in the 21st century.
However, some of the parties and organisations are trying to drag the debate in different directions according to their class interests. Instead of helping the debate, some of the ``communist parties'' and ``organisations'' are intentionally trying to twist the debate unknowingly to the service of reactionaries.
In spite of all these interests, the CPN (Maoist) is going to conduct the debate from its cadre level, while at the moment; there are meetings at the state committee level. All the leaders and cadres are delighted. They are taking part in the discussion in the spirit of the proletarian class.
Before the party congress, the CPN (Maoist) is going to hold a central gathering in the second week of November. The debate will be held in a unified and well-planned way at the coming gathering.
The congress of the CPN (Maoist) is historically quite different from the congress of any communist party in the world. The party is at a stage of strategic offensive. It has become victorious in a decade long People’s War and in the election of the Constituent Assembly.
In Nepal, if there is any hope and trust of the majority of the people, it is with the CPN (Maoist). The other parliamentary parties have already failed. Therefore, naturally, people have trust in the CPN (Maoist). The party will be victorious in its coming congress and will lead the nation ahead by addressing the aspirations and interests of the majority of the people along with the great aspirations expressed in the decade long People’s War and the People’s Movement.
`The People’s Republic will be federal and competitive'
Interview with Prachanda, Prime Minister of Nepal and chairperson of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
What important decisions has the State Management Committee carried out?
The committee has taken some decisions related to the formation of peace committees at local levels and at village levels. In the lower level, a committee of political representatives with twenty-five members will be formed.
How do you evaluate the government under your leadership?
It is a coalition government. It has its limitations due to the fact it is a coalition government. If we evaluate the government within the limitations of that, many achievements have been gained at the international level and with the party leading the government from an immediate point of view.
In a short period, we have given a new orientation in policy, program and annual budget in the country and visited from China to the United States of America. This is another important achievement. And the third, there is not so much clarity in the internal tasks as there needs to be. We are also worried about that. Now, I am concentrating on the internal work of the party to take some important decisions between the Dashain and Tihar festivals. Therefore, the people are perplexed because they are eager to see something new. This will be addressed soon.
Has the council of ministries expanded yet?
The council of ministries is full according to the cabinet. Some of the parties are willing to join the government in some of the vacant ministries. A decision will be taken about that soon.
Will the Nepali Congress party be involved in the government?
There is no immediate possibility to join. Nevertheless, we are requesting the NC join the government to build a federal democratic rebublican constitution. However, Girija Prasad Koirala has denied that the NC will join the government soon.
The issues of land reform and the integration of the army have become complex. How will they be solved?
The question of the land is not so complex. We will form a high-level Land Reform Commission for scientific land reform. It will select and solve the problems related to the land and the land reform in its working process. However, it is not without challenges.
The most important subject is the integration of the army. More or less, it has already been done and written about in the Comprehensive Peace Accord and in the interim constitution. We have reached an agreement about it. But some other things are left to be done. Specifically, the policy, process and the concrete decisions on it are left to be worked out in detail.
In this period I visited foreign countries such as China, India and [the USA]. Everywhere, I have heard that people are confused. Even the people within our country are also confused. They do not have any clear picture in their mind.
There are two different views about the integration of the army. Some have extreme views about the integration of the army. They argue that the army should not be integrated because the People’s Liberation Army is a political army while the Nepal army is a professional army. They say that the two different armies, the political and the professional armies cannot be integrated. On the other hand, there is another extremist view on the integration of the army. They say that the whole of the PLA should be integrated and the decision of the verification and the discharge should not be accepted and followed. I think that the army should be integrated according to the agreement we have made before. There are different methods of army integration, but we should develop our own method. We should not copy the methods of others.
What is the method?
Now is not a suitable time to reveal all things. However, the army should be integrated and the integration should be in a respected manner. It will be held from the point of view of solving the problem.
Whether or not the integration of army takes place on time or not has led many to suspect whether the constitution will be on time.
Probably, we will discuss more about the integration of the army in the coming meeting of the council of the ministers and will take some important decisions. From the former meeetings of the council of the ministers, we have some clear ideas about it. If we are able to solve the issue of the integration of the army on time as we have said, the building of the constitution will not take more than two years. The building of the constitution is closely related to the peace process. As I have understood, the integration of the army is possible. It is oriented in a positive way to solve the problem.
What was the attitude towards Nepal of those countries while you were in China, India and the USA?
I got different attitudes towards Nepal from the different countries and the different people while I was visiting them. Now, there is a big enthusiasm in China after our visit. I talked with the state president, prime minister, officials and the intellectuals in China. In our talks, I found a positive curiosity about the new Nepal, the Republican Nepal and the change. Along with it, I found helpful hands and sympathy with the new Nepal and the Nepalese people.
In India, as the first prime minister of Republican Nepal I visited media, traders and businesspeople, government officials, the Indian prime minister, president and the leaders of the various parties. I got the opportunity to clarify the illusion about the New Nepal and our party. I used to feel that the BJP, a Hindutva party, was a little more confused about our party, the CPN (Maoist). Although the BJP and our party the CPN (Maoist) have quite different ideologies, the leaders of the BJP became clear and free from the illusion.
What was the illusion?
The illusion was that they suspected Maoists believe in terror. I used to hear about it before too. I talked directly with Lal Krishna Adwani, the leader of the BJP. I told him that I used to see you on TV giving offensive speeches and interviews against us, but we were same as we are now. When he told me that me that he has never been to Nepal, I told him what politics he did when he has not visited Mithila (Janakpur) and Pashupatinath temple in Nepal. I told them that formal democracy has not addressed the people in the whole of India. And, it has not addressed the people anywhere in the world. We are committed to multiparty democratic competition. However, the multiparty competition is not a parliamentary system. We are in search of the democracy that empowers the majority exploited, class, caste, region and gender of any country.
While visiting in America, I tried to raise debate about democracy. We are in an accredition that we want to synthesise the negative and positive aspects of our party's communist democracy. Formal parliamentary democracy has failed all over the world. And, it has to be synthesised. In a discussion held in the New School University in New York, some of the intellecutals told me that we communists are advancing only with the photos of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. I answered them by saying that the ideology of formal democracy is older than Marx, Lenin and Stalin.
I told them how can Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao be older than the ideology of formal democracy founded by the older men than them. I told them that Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao are from the later genertaion who founded new ideology of communism. The debate on democracy was good in America and India.
You met with US President George W. Bush. Did you get any changes in their opinion towards the Maoists after your visit?
Our party has been victorious from the point of view of morality and politics. I put our opinion as I met George W. Bush. I talked about the newly established federal democratic republic and their helping hands to Nepal. This is a great achievement and victory of the CPN (Maoist) because we are standing in a quite opposite political direction.
I told him that we reached this point after passing a long process, but America is at the same point as it was before. I directly told him that we came in the point through People’s War, the peace agreement and by winning the victory in the election.
Then I visited [US Assistant Secretary for Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs] Richard Boucher and talked for a longer time about political issues. Their view point toward our party was logically defensive. When President Bush met me, he told me that the meeting between the two is also a change. It was a technical thing and it was not a policy.
In what sense, was your visit a breakthrough?
My visit itself was breakthrough. In my visit to China, it was the closing ceremony of Beijing Olympics. In the essence, China visit is a breakthrough.
In my visit to India, I did not make any aggreements against the interest of Nepal and the Nepalese people. In this visit, questions were raised related to the border. My visit was the first visit. I hadn’t gone there to review or cancel all the bilateral treaties and agreements from the Sugauli treaty to 1950s, Susta, Kalapani and the barrages of the rivers.
Nepal became a semi-colonial country after the Sugauli treaty. Are we independent after the establishment of the republic or are we in the same situation as before?
Nepal entered into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal socio-political situation after Sugauli treaty. Nepal has not been liberated from that situation yet. But the semi-colonial and semi-feudal condittion is different from those periods of Panchayat system and the parliamentary system under the constitutional monarchy before the election of the Constituent Assembly.
The declaration of federal democratic republic is the progress in the change of semi-feudal sociopolitical character. However there is no change in semi-colonial socio-political character and there is a danger of going to be a full colony. But I don't want to say that it is only from India, the domination and the influence of foreign countries is more and more! The situation has been created whether the danger will increase more over the national unity and the national independency.
Therefore the change has not been equally in semi-feudal and semi-colonial socio-economic condition. Internally, the idea of disintegration is found. It directly and indirectly helps the idea of semi-colonial though. Therefore there is the danger of increasing intervention and hegemony in social, economic, cultural life of Nepal.
What can the Nepalese people do for the protection of nationality?
Nepalese can do much more about this. My confidence has been increased. In my visit to foreign countries, I got huge support and sympathy about Nepal and the Nepalese people. The political change occurring in Nepal has brought a change in the conception of Nepal. We can do more for the benefit of national liberation all over the world.
It is said that after the involvement in government, there is monarchy, selfishness in the Maoist Party. Is it true?
In our society many new challenges occur in new stages. In this front, this peaceful front, there is a little more danger in rightist reformism. There prevails the environment to be anarchist, personal and selfish. All the Nepalese and the revolutionaries should be aware about it.
Therefore, all the reactionaries are hatching conspiracies to damage cadres and split the party. We should be aware about it. Around the Chunwang meeting, in the period of People’s War, radio, television, newspapers and the magazines publicised and broadcast the news against our party and the party leaders. They publicised that the party was going to be split. They said that one leader had put another leader into jail. This created suspicious and anarchy within party.
Therefore, all these are the reflection within our party of the ups and downs of social struggle. There is a necessity to fight against all these dangers. However, I don’t consider that the party has been damaged too much.
Are these all the consequences created by the emptiness of the correct party line?
That is not the main thing in my view. The party line, which we are following now, had been synthesised from the second national conference in the period of People’s War. We fused the People's War and the People’s Movement in our party line. We applied tactics to the interim government, constituent assembly and the republic.
All these were called ``Prachanda Path''. Then we called the development in ideology. Then we centralised our struggle in the interim government, constituent assembly and the republic. If we review from there, tactics have not finished yet. It is false to say that the tactics have been finished. The constituent assembly is the synthesis of our tactics. The interim constitution was not the main one in our series of tactics. We became the largest party through the election of the constituent assembly that will take decision about the fate and fortune of all the Nepalese people. We are in the leadership of the government and if we say the end of that tactic it means that we are not understanding the real essence of the tactics.
The real struggle has been initiated in the constituent assembly now. This is the essence of tactics passed by the second national conference. To talk about the end of tactics is to disarm ourselves mentally and push to zero level. It is only to create illusion. the constituent assembly is the main thing after the declaration of the republic and formation of the interim government.
The constituent assembly has not finished yet. We should re-read the document of the Chunwang meeting. It says: ``Until the federal democratic republic is declared, we will have a kind of compromise with the bourgeoisie. After the formation of the constituent assembly, the bourgeoisie will try to change the federal republic into bourgeois republic and the proletariat will try to change the federal republic into People’s Republic. It shows that the real struggle has just begun.” The struggle is still around the issue of whether the federal democratic republic is made a bourgeoise republic or a People’s Republic.
Have the different documents and different opinions [divided] your party?
That is not true. Our party has a single opinion about tactics. No different opinions are there. No central committee members have said that it was wrong to be involved in the government. Nobody has said that it was wrong to take part in the constituent assembly. It was not wrong to take part and be victorious in the constituent assembly election.
Are the news stories published and broadcast [about this] only an illusion, then?
Yes, we are worrying about the party. We are anxious that will our party go into the bug of reformism or will be individualist. All comrades are worried. All the sympathisers are thinking so. However, there is no other opinions on the tactical line of the party and about the government. We have a single opinion.
What about party unity?
We have talked a lot about party unity. There was talk before the election of the constituent assembly. We are already agreed but only some technical problems are there. After the election we couldn’t enter into the process of party unity because the political situation was not so clear.
After the formation of the government, the political situation is now clear. We had already formed our coordination committee on party unity. We have held regular meetings of the co-ordination commitee on party unity. We have taken a decision for party unity.
How will you implement the goal of a People’s Republic in the country?
Some are very terrified by hearing of our People’s Republic. A People’s Republic is not a traditional one. We will build the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist constitution. We can call it the People’s Constitution or people-oriented Constitution. We can call it the People’s Republican Constitution also. The essence of the constituiton should be free from the exploitation of feudalism and imperialism.
The republic should be in favour of people. No one should be terrified that the People’s Republic is not the same as the republic of Mao Tse Tung in China, because we have added two new things. One, the constitution should be anti-feudal and anti-imperialist, and the other, it should have a federal structure. Mao imagined the People’s Republic as a unitary structure, but we are making it federal. In a federal structure, the division of power is from the centre to local level. This is original.
We have reached this conclusion learning the lesson from 20th century that multiparty competition should be even be in socialism under its constitutional boundaries. In this sense, the People’s Republic is going to be the federal competitive People’s Republic. It is not just the photocopy of Mao. It will be a developed one of 21st century.
[This interview first appeared in the Red Star, newspaper of the CPN (Maoist), October 24-November 7, 2008. It has been slightly edited to improve clarity.]