UCPN Maoist leader and former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has remained in limelight for a long time for various reasons. Regarded as the architect of the Maoist insurgency and a core planner of the party’s pre and post peace efforts, he was also the PM of the government which witnessed the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly for which his own party had fought the ten year long people’s war. Nepali Reporters’ Rishi Dhamala recently caught up with this Maoist ideologue to discuss his party and his achievements in the post peace era and their future strategy.
Here are the edited excerpts.
How confident are you in holding the next CA elections?
CA elections should be held at any cost. There is no alternative to it. And this was the reason for which I had handed the reigns of the government to the Chief Justice.
Did you resign after failing to hold CA elections?
Reluctance of some political powers to participate in the elections and even Presidents reluctance to endorse some necessary ordinance hindered the creation of conducive environment for holding CA elections. Handing over the reigns to the Chief Justice was a suitable option that would preserve democracy and hold CA elections.
Being a democrat, how could you endorse the formation of an undemocratic government?
It would be better if you would ask this question to those who created that environment by not allowing an elected Prime Minister to hold CA elections. Baburam Bhattarai did his best to preserve the CA. Before the CA dissolved on May 28, my cabinet had prepared an ordinance to extend the tenure of CA but Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala opposed it and also called back his party’s minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula from the government. Than also I had made efforts to extend the tenure by imposing emergency, but than the President denied to cooperate. Except Deuba, no one backed my proposal and ultimately CA was dissolved.
How responsible do you think you are for the CA’s dissolution?
It was my fallacy not to realize that Nepal’s politics was crooked and on top of that to be hopeful till the last minute that major political parties will not allow the dissolution of the CA.
It was my fault to wait for the political parties to create conducive environment but the CA elections would have been conducted. I had announced elections but it required making changes to the constitution. But the President never endorsed those ordinances. So, it is important to understand that I intended to hold elections but was not allowed to do so by not endorsing necessary ordinances.
But with the dissolution of CA, didn’t your party lost its own agenda?
Mahendra had sabotaged the first foetus of CA in Nepal. After that it was me who had once again germinated the seed. And we have not last hope to draft the constitution with the dissolution of the CA. Adult couples can have another child even though they face an unfortunate abortion.
But aged couples who have lost fertility power cannot have children. There are some political parties in Nepal who have even done vasectomie (permanent family planning method done by males). They cannot give birth to CA, but Maoist can give and rear another CA.
While still at office once you had said key to the power was somewhere else?
I have never said so. I would like to request media friends for giving up the habit of not accepting the truth and distributing unverified rumors. I have never said that key to Nepal fate rested in external sources. Nepalese people have the sovereign power in themselves.
But don’t you think Nepal’s politicians have been influenced by external power sources?
You must remember that the Maoist power had changed this reality. We were forced to reliant on external sources since the Sugauli Treaty. External sources have been intervening in our internal affairs since than. Its obvious for such soured to interfere when we are not united internally.
Were these external sources behind the formation of incumbent Regmi government?
We had two options to hold CA elections. First, as elected PM I should have been given the opportunity to hold CA elections. But as opposition parties were reluctant forming an electoral government in the leadership of the Chief Justice, as was done in Greece and Bangladesh, was the best option. It was our idea and external power sources supported and backed this notion.
But your former counterpart, Mohan Baidya has claimed that it was Indian plan?
I don’t want to comment about them. I would let history judge this. They parted from us by putting forward ideological differences. They are still to be tested. But I can see that their approach is not practical and thus is doomed to be failure.
Will there be CA elections if Baidya’s party does not participate in it?
They are presently in dilemma. They might opt to participate in the elections. But even if they don’t participate CA elections will be held. Its not possible to fulfill their demands. There is no alternative to the Regmi government. Prior to this NC and UML were not cooperating but now as all major parties together, CA elections will be held. A date for it should be announced at the earliest. Its only Baidya’ party in their 33 party coalition who are in dilemma to participate in the elections. Rest of them want to go for elections.
So Nepalese can hold CA elections themselves?
Yes. There is no alternative to CA elections and multiparty democracy. Elections are necessary to institutionalize democracy in Nepal. Our neighbor are also in favor of democracy, stability, peace and development.
Did the President tried to oust you?
Everyone knows that the President had made multiple attempts to oust me. I won’t say that he intended to impose a coupe. But he made it hard for my government by not endorsing necessary ordinances. Present interim constitution has nowhere given him the right to reject any ordinances endorsed by the cabinet. As a patron of the constitution, he should not have worked against its directives.
So the President failed your government?
I don’t know how much the President used his conscience in doing those decisions. But he was used by those powers who could not see the Maoists, the forerunner of change, lead the movement.
So was your government a total failure?
No. People will remember the Bhattarai government for concluding the peace process, for expanding the Kathmandu roads, and for finalizing mega projects like the West Seti and for starting the procurement of new jets for Nepal Airlines.
Translated and Edited by Chitra Raj Bhandari.