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"The struggle against King Gyanendra should be made bipolar"

Amit Baruah

Calling for the establishment of complete democracy, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) general secretaryMadhav Nepalsays King Gyanendra's talk of elections is a trap. Excerpts from a recent interview:

— Photo: R.V.Moorthy

Madhav Nepal: "We need sympathy, solidarity, and support from the people of India."

What are the prospects of an early return to democracy in Nepal?

It is very difficult to answer your question even though we are trying our best to create a congenial climate where we can establish complete democracy. For this purpose, we are mobilising the people. We have launched a new people's awareness campaign and we have mobilised our own party cadres all over the country in 75 districts and 4,000 villages. There will be mass meetings in villages and bazaars. On November 11, we are planning district-level demonstrations and from November 19 we are planning regional-level protest programmes, where at least 50,000 people will participate in each programme. The culmination of all this will be a massive protest in Kathmandu on February 19 [2006] — that is our proposal, our party's proposal. We would also like to gather more international support for our cause so that the King [Gyanendra] is isolated from all quarters. The more we can mobilise, the sooner we can restore democracy.

King Gyanendra recently promised elections in two years. Do you believe him?

The King has tried to hold elections four times during the tenure of four Prime Ministers ... but it did not prove possible. The intentions of the King are not good; he wants to deceive the international community and give false hope to the world that he is for democracy. But he has mala fide intentions. He is really not keen to restore democracy because the announcement of holding elections is just a trap. He [the King] wants to legitimise his own autocratic regime, strengthen his power and prolong his rule as long as possible. In the absence of democratic space and [a] peaceful environment, any talk of elections is just wishful thinking, a ploy of monarchist forces.

The seven-party alliance for the restoration of democracy had announced its intentions of engaging the Maoists. How far have you been successful in this?

We are trying to communicate with the Maoists and have put three issues before them. First, they must commit themselves to multiparty democracy; second, they must behave in a democratic way and not harass the general people and political opponents; and, third, they must give an assurance that they will surrender their arms to the international community or under the supervision of the United Nations when there is a political settlement.

I have heard that at a recent Central Committee meeting they [the Maoists] have addressed all these issues and responded positively, but the details are still to come in. If they are responding positively, it is a good sign. We will again hold talks with them to bring them [into] a peaceful, political process and concentrate on the fight against the absolute monarchy so that the present triangular fight can be turned into a bipolar one.

Could there be a common, minimum position between the political parties and the Maoists?

The common programme is that we must do away with constitutional monarchy and establish complete democracy because the 1991 version [of democracy] was a limited one.

To achieve this, we must have elections for a constituent assembly. We must have an understanding on all these basic elements and also review our past performance during the 12 years political parties were in power. Some serious mistakes were made and these need to be corrected ...

You met a cross-section of political leaders during your visit to New Delhi. What do you expect from India?

What we need is sympathy, solidarity and support from the people, authorities, leaders and a cross-section of the Indian population. They should not, in any way, take steps that will bolster the morale of the absolutist monarchy.

Are you getting that support?

More or less. But, at times, there are anxieties whether that [support] would be continued or not. To secure this [Indian support], we would like all possible help from the press and other sections of society.

What are the things that you would not like the Government of India to do?

No steps that strengthen the monarchy should be taken. Supply of arms [by India to Nepal] is one of the things [that shouldn't be done]. It is very clear that the [Maoist] insurgency cannot be addressed by military means.

So, if the Maoist problem is a political one, then it should be handled in a political way. We need to find a political solution to the problem. For this, we are doing our best to restore the capabilities of the political parties.

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