Kathmandu, Jan. 16: The Maoists in Nepal have dissolved their parallel people’s government. Their cadres would no longer be authorised to collect “taxes”, take any other coercive action or prevent the opening up of police posts.
“From last night when the old parliament was dissolved, we too have dissolved our government,” Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai declared sitting in a small room of a budget hotel in Kathmandu’s tourist district of Thamel. This has become his temporary home in the capital.
“The monopoly media in Nepal exaggerates stories of intimidation and extortion — people forget that in the 10 years of civil war we ran a parallel people’s government. We had agreed to dissolve our government along with the old parliament. When that happened last night and arms management began, our government was dissolved,” Bhattarai pointed out.
The main ideologue of the Nepal Maoists, Bhattarai, however, pointed out that it was wrong to claim that the separation or “management of arms” was a pre-condition for their joining the new government likely to be formed by January-end.
“We have agreed to a political settlement of which arms management and integration of the People’s Liberation Army and the Nepal Army are a part. Our joining the government, arms management and the integration of the two armies will happen simultaneously,” he claimed.
There have been allegations that the Maoists were buying old, decrepit guns from across the border in India and submitting them to the UN monitors while hiding caches of their better weapons. How true were these stories' Bhattarai dismissed them saying:
“These allegations are made with malafide intention. They come from those who want to sabotage the peace process.”
Now that the Maoists have joined parliament, their weapons would soon be under the joint care of the UN and they would also be in government, would this amount to a commitment to free and fair elections to the constituent assembly with no intimidation of the voters' Bhattarai immediately denied that the Maoists had “joined parliament” before answering the question about elections.
“People say we have joined parliament. We have not done so. We have joined an interim legislature with an interim constitution — a transitional arrangement. The kind of parliament and multi-party democracy best suited to Nepal is yet to be decided in the constituent assembly. Our commitment is to that and not to joining a parliament based on the Westminster model,” he pointed out.
Bhattarai, however, claimed that the threat to free and fair constituent assembly elections did not come from the Maoists.
“We are totally committed to free and fair elections and we will honour our commitment. The real problem is with the bureaucracy, police and the army. They still have a feudal mindset. It is their intentions that we doubt. But we feel that together with the democratic political parties we can deal with them,” he claimed.
The Maoist leader dismissed the charge that his party was blindly opposed to the liberalisation of Nepal’s economy. Nepal’s primary problem was to change the feudal system in all its dimensions, including the economic one, while promoting industrialisation, he pointed out.
“Radical land reforms are our first priority. The second priority is rapid industrialisation. We are not against foreign investment but it has to serve our industrialisation policy. It must create jobs, lead to transfer of technology and increase productivity. We are not totally opposed to the liberalisation and globalisation process,” Bhattarai said.
What did he have to say to those in India who still suspect the Maoists' Bhattarai smiled and said: “If some people still have Cold War hang-ups, what can we do' Earlier, the feudal forces in Nepal had aligned themselves with people in Delhi and to some political parties. Now a new democratic Nepal is emerging. When genuine democracy comes to Nepal, you will see the relationship with India flourishing. It will be a very positive relationship.”