‘We chose the path of rebellion in the beginning because we thought only the uprising could establish change. But, when we realized that it could be counterproductive to stretch the revolt any further, we opted for consensus. The monarchy was heading toward the autocracy. The parliamentary parties almost had no choice than to become underground. In these circumstances, I realized that the iron was in a heated state. Thus, to hammer the Nepal’s politics into a desired shape, I chose the path of consensus.’
KATHMANDU, May 29: Nepal Communist Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’-led the then CPN (Maoist) launched a communist insurgency on February 13, 1996 with the main aim of overthrowing monarchy and establishing People’s Republic. The 10-year old civil war–which killed than 19,000 people including both civilians and armed forces and 100,000 to 150,000 people internally displaced–formally ended after Prachanda and Seven Party Alliance signed a Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006 November 21. The twelve point agreement also stated that a dictatorial monarchy of King Gyanendra is the chief impediment to progress in Nepal.
Following the completion of three-tier of elections, the two largest communist parties of the country, Maoist Center also announced its merger with CPN-UML to form Nepal Communist Party earlier in mid-May.
Here is an interview between Prachanda and Reporters’ Club Nepal President Rishi Dhamala, which has dwelt over the 10-years long armed civil war and its achievements so far.
It has been ten years since Republic was established in Nepal. How do you take this decade?
Republic was established because people wanted it. As a leader, I feel proud about this achievement and for having the opportunity to play a crucial role in establishing republic in the country. It took us a long than expected to promulgate constitution and conduct all three tiers of elections. People, therefore, felt that the achievements of the republic were delayed. But now that the elections have already been conducted, all the people will realize the achievements of the republic.
How do you memorize the milieu of the changes including republic?
The civil war sowed the seeds of federalism, republic, inclusiveness and secularism in the country. Without the Maoist insurgency, no foundation for the Federal Democratic Republic Nepal would be laid. Had the then CPN (Maoist) and the Seven Party Alliance not signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord, fused 2006 People’s Movement, the change would not have been possible. I had told Late Girija Prasad Koirala about this while signing the Peace Accord. As a matter of fact, Maoist insurgency created the bases the today’s changes.
I don’t say that the country would see no changes at all. But, Constitution Assembly elections would probably not be held in the dates they were held. There is no meaning to live on hypothesis that something would happen after years.
Can it be said that Prachanda did a great work signing the 12-point agreement with Late Koirala-led Seven Party Alliance?
It was a historic change. The agreement between the Seven Party Alliance and CPN (Maoist) made this possible. We receive this change as a matter of pride. The history has also accepted it.
The Maoist was supposed to establish change through war. But why did Prachanda choose the path of consensus?
We chose the path of rebellion in the beginning because we thought only the uprising could establish change. But, when we realized that it could be counterproductive to stretch the revolt any further, we opted for consensus. The monarchy was heading toward the autocracy. The parliamentary parties almost had no choice than to become underground. In these circumstances, I realized that the iron was in a heated state. Thus, to hammer the Nepal’s politics into a desired shape, I chose the path of consensus.
How was CPN (Maoist)’s relation with UML during the insurgency?
We had held frequent negotiations with UML. Before signing the 12-point agreement, we had held discussions with UML in Rolpa. When we were underground, I, as a supreme commander, used to ride horses to different places to hold meetings. Bamdev Gautam and Yubaraj Gyawali were brought to Rolpa on horses. During the meeting with Gautam and Gyawali, we had reached our first ever agreement—which made the 12-point agreement possible.
You were close with the leaders of UML except K P Sharma Oli. How did you manage to find consensus?
Perhaps it is the need of the country that brought us together. It is true that Oli and Prachanda did not get on well in the past. But, within the differences was Oli-Prachanda chemistry brewing. We hit an agreement to walk into the path of socialism leading the country peacefully toward good governance and prosperity.
Some leaders and cadres are not happy with Maoist Center merging into UML. Also, have you abandoned Maoism?
I did what would benefit the people and the country. Every time I take another step, dissatisfactions surface. But this time it is comparatively lesser. And, we have not said that we are quitting Maoism. This subject remains under discussion until General Convention.
What will be the policy of newly formed Nepal Communist Party?
Good governance, stability and development are our major agendas. We will work as per the interest of people and country. It is necessary to develop national industrial capital. Without capital there is no socialism. Our policy is to make country and people rich.
You had strong bases to claim the prime minister’s post. Yet, why did you make Oli the prime minister of Nepal?
I deeply realized that I had responsibilities. It is perhaps my character and nature. I have never stopped thinking for the people and the country. It is not my aim to become prime minister or president. But as a leader who has struggled the most to establish changes in the country, it is my wish that the changes be protected. I resigned for the premiership for two times. I have even declined the proposal to become the prime minister. After the completion of elections, I was offered the PM’s post for five years. But I thanked them and chose the path to serve people. I cannot break the promises I made to my people. Today, I feel proud to support Oli as prime minister.
Can Prachanda become PM again?
If the circumstances demand my premiership, I cannot run away from the responsibility. The present government must work effectively and devotedly as per the interest of people for five straight years. The government must be result oriented.
Will Oli head the government for five years then?
It depends on what the party decides. I will have no objection if Oli heads the government for five straight years. The Nepal Communist Party will lead the country for five years.
What about the executive president?
We believe that the system of government with executive head is better for the country. But it is no time to debate on this subject.