We’re ready to take leadership of revolt
To split or not to split has been the question for the Maoist party for a long time after the Constituent Assembly election. That question is about to be answered—three weeks after the expiration of the CA, the ‘hardline’ faction started a national gathering of activists in Kathmandu on Saturday, a step many see as a preparation to forming a separate party. One of the key players in the faction, Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplab’ spoke to the Bidushi Dhungel and Gyanu Adhikari about the imminent split in the party and the way forward for the hardliners. Excerpts:
When did the political lines between the hardline and the establishment faction begin to differ?
Primarily, after the Kharipati meet in 2008 when the Chairman Prachanda chose the democratic republic line instead of going for a people’s republic [janabadi]. That can’t be the bottom line for a communist party. It can be for Congress or others, but for a communist party, it should be janabadi.
Did you have these differences when you decided to team up with parliamentary parties and signed the 12-point agreement in 2005?
We were on the same page. With the king’s direct rule, we concluded it’d be better to go for a political system where the people’s representatives are decisive players. They too concluded that a system that included the Maoists would be better than the king’s direct rule.
Today, it appears the differences are irreconcilable. Does your faction have any proposal to keep it united?
We’ve raised two things in particular: political programme and leadership structure. Besides these there are also economic issues, but they are secondary.
Where exactly do you differ with the establishment faction?
No matter what, we have to restructure the state, and that process should include the Maoists. I don’t mean a few people in the Maoist party. The process should include people’s representatives. We thought the Constituent Assembly was a good path, and we worked tirelessly for four years. But the CA was dissolved. It proves transforming the state is not easy.
You are in the process of forming a separate party. What would be working policy of this party?
We can talk about it only after we form a new party (clears his throat and chuckles midly). In this meet, we’re talking about political line and leadership of the current party.
So there’s possibility of the two factions staying together?
Unless they do a serious self-evaluation, it’s not possible.
Your Chairman has said he’s willing to resign to keep the party from splitting.
Then he should do it. No point in making speeches about it. When in indoor meetings, he considers it impossible, but in Khula Manch he declares he’ll do it today.
If you’re unhappy with him, why don’t you convince the party activists and replace your Chairman in a general convention instead of splitting?
They won’t open that path. In fact, we wanted to have a general convention before the People’s Liberation Army was handed over. On the one hand, they kept saying yeah okay to us and on the other, they kept signing agreements that were not agreed to by the party.
Is going for a revolt one of the option you’re considering?
Well, we shouldn’t think of revolts as terrible accidents. They’re not sudden, and usually happen because of state policies. They’re born through the direct participation of the people and the necessity for change. They’re not impossible, neither are they easily done.
Is the bone of contention between the hardliners and the establishment faction whether or to adopt the policy of revolt?
It’s not that. The main thing is we want to transform the state. Specifically, we want a change in laws. We should have laws based on the aspirations of today’s citizens. There’re many active laws that were created during the Rana regime and early years of Panchayat. The second thing is the administration, which is conservative and old-fashioned. Third is the economy, which needs to be restructured to benefit all people. Fourth is going from a unitary to federal thoughts. Along with that, the security system should also be new.
Do you think the establishment faction has abandoned this agenda?
It makes us sad sometimes. Until some time ago, they were portraying us as opposed to want peace and constitution. They’ve even said that we want to return to guerilla war.
Is that untrue?
Well, their statements automatically prove that they are not ready to take risks to fulfill the people’s agenda. This answers your previous question—it confirms they’ve abandoned people’s agenda.
Does this risk-taking include working policy of a revolt?
Well, we’ve always said that if Nepal’s state stays the same—if it continues on this path—the people will chose confrontation. There is real possibility of consolidating such revolt. If that happens, we’re ready to take its leadership. There’s no need for us to lie about this.
You say that the revolt depends on people’s choice, but who will support this revolt you envision?
This will include all people without rights from everywhere; workers, farmers, women, Dalits, Janajatis and nationalists who care about our sovereignty. A revolt is only possible after all these forces are united.
A lot of people are keen to know whether you will go underground once the party splits.
We have no desire to go underground (laughs). We’ll stay over-ground and convince people.
Let’s talk about Nepal’s neighbours. Is there any difference in the way the two factions in the Maoist party view China and India?
There’s a difference. Our perspective is that both are our neighbours but one is like a master (malik) and another is like a witness. This can’t be. One is like a witness who watches from the sides, another’s behaviour is domineering. We want both to be like friends in a journey.
That’s theoretical talk. In practice, what changes in relationship do you want?
Look, we should be allowed to run the politics of this country. We should be allowed to make our own policies. We should be allowed to solve our issues.
You recently came back from China. What happened in Beijing?
I spoke of these things. I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Our friends’ goodwill toward us is very positive. They said there is poverty in Nepal and there’s no stability. Solve these issues, we’ll help—they said.
What did Beijing say about the Maoist party splitting?
They said we shouldn’t split keep the party intact as far as possible.
What about New Delhi. What do they say about the split in your party?
I don’t have to go to Delhi to get their view. It’s around us, everywhere. During discussions, I don’t find Delhi negative.
Delhi, like Beijing, wants to see the Maoists party united?
Yes, yes. So far none of our friends have suggested we split (laughs).
Going back to the factions, you used to say that peace process and constitution-writing should move together. Then the integration of the PLA proceeded but constitution-writing got stuck. What happened?
It proves us right. Our friends in NC and UML, and Prachanda ji and Baburam ji, used to say the constitution would be written as soon as the issue of PLA was solved. The PLA gave hope to a lot of people that change was coming. Look, what have we achieved. No constitution and no state restructuring. The people are depressed.
How do your faction think the political process will move forward now with all the constitutional ambiguities?
We’ve put our proposal forward. We have to have a roundtable meet along with an interim all-party government. Some have talked of elections and reviving the parliament. Both are date-expired medicines.
Even the CA couldn’t work in an inclusive manner. How can we believe that a roundtable will be inclusive?
If we do proper homework, this can be the new course. We can get a new constitution through a new course.
And the roundtable will write the new constitution?
Yes. Roundtable can also function as the House of Representatives.
Finally, how do you feel about the leadership of the establishment faction? Do you feel betrayed?
By Prachandi ji and his friends? Yes. It’s not only betrayal; it’s maha-betrayal.