Q&A Kiran Baidya, Vice Chairman, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
AS THE deadline for unveiling the new constitution in Nepal draws near, fractures within the Maoist-coalition are creating grounds for a renewed political struggle.
A section of the cadres accuse the leadership of selling out; ‘compromising’ the ideals that forced them to wage a 10-year civil war against the state. As the Constituent Assembly inches closer to its deadline, there is discontent over the party’s decision to support a multi-party federal democracy instead of ushering the promised new democracy, communism, and singleparty system.
In November 2005, the party signed a Twelve-point agreement with a coalition of seven existing political parties in Nepal. It was this accord that ended the civil war in the country and brought the Maoists into the mainstream — a move seen by many as the beginning of the Maoist cave-in.
Even after claiming control over 90 percent of Nepal by early 2005, the Maoists were unable to wrest a single district headquarter from the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA). And with the Indian Army assuring the RNA of its support if the Maoist movement entered the second phase of revolution — conventional warfare — for the Maoists the only way to power was compromise. The mainstream political parties too needed the Maoist support to tackle the growing ambition of the King. So the Twelve-point agreement created a win-win situation.
While the party leadership, led by Pusp Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Baburam Bhattarai, touts its move as an ‘experiment deemed necessary by the changing global scenario’; everyone isn’t happy. Hardliners like Mohan Baidya alias “Kiran”, who have been with the party for over 30 years, are protesting.
Baidya, Vice Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and number two in the party leadership after Prachanda, claims influence over 80 of the 240 Maoist MPs in the Constituent Assembly, and 50 of the 147 Central Committee members.
A substantial number of the 12,000-odd Maoist cadres that opted for voluntary retirement are Baidya loyalists. These cadres have already set up separate committees at all levels, and have established a separate headquarter from that of the faction led by Prachanda and Bhattarai.
This ideological split in the Nepalese Maoist movement should serve as a reality check to the Government of India that has been suggesting the ‘Nepal route’ to the Indian Maoists.
In an interview with Avalok Langer, Maoist hardliner Kiran Baidya talks on compromise, going back to war and his anti- India stand:
EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW
Prachanda and Bhattrai have often said, ‘given the global scenario, the Maoist party was forced to alter its agenda’. Why do you see this as a compromise?
At some stage in every movement one has to make compromises, but since 2005 the very ideals of the revolution have been sacrificed. The idea behind the revolution was to change the existing political system in Nepal.
We are not averse to a compromise that brings in a new system, which addresses the problems we fought for, rights of farmers, women, Dalits, Madhesis, Adivasis, Muslims, backward classes. But that is not going to happen. The new constitution will be along the same lines as the 1990 multi-party system constitution, it will not usher in the changes that we fought for, and a people’s government will not come to power.
There are talks of a split in the Maoist party following the formulation of the constitution. Will you break away with your support base?
The talk of a split is a part of politicking. We work for the party, under the party banner and we do not want to break away or split the party. However, by moving away from the ideals and beliefs that the party stood for, they (Prachanda and Bhattrai) are taking the party towards an inevitable split.
I am not anti-India. What I am opposed to is the attempt by some Indian political parties to subjugate Nepal. I am against them
Are you suggesting that the struggle may be renewed?
If the problems of people are not addressed in the constitution, we will not accept it. Prachanda recently stated that if the constitution doesn’t address the necessary issues, the party will revolt. Our stand is the same.
Everyone talks of the link between the Maoists in Nepal and the Indian Maoists. What is the relationship? Is there any truth in the claim?
We are a communist party, and so are they; we are Maoists, they are Maoists too; they too want to bring about a new system in India as we do in Nepal; so if you look at it that way, ideologically we are linked and remain linked.
During the war, yes, we interacted with the Indian Maoists. But ever since we have come overground, we have had no physical link with them.
You are known for your anti-India approach. In the past you have opposed Indian projects. How do you explain your stand?
I am not anti-India. What I am opposed to is the attempt by some Indian political parties to subjugate Nepal. I am against them.
I want Nepal to have a good relationship with India. But all the agreements and deals that have taken place since 1950 are unequal. Unlike India we are a small country. What is the need to have inequitable treaties?
I want these treaties scrapped, and the border issues resolved; the old agreements should be done away with and we should start afresh. We should develop treaties and agreements that are beneficial to both Nepal and India.
But if you keep opposing India, don’t you think it will hurt Nepalese interests in India?
There are Indians working in Nepal and Nepalese working in India. This is the age of globalisation, and given that we have porous borders this exchange will continue.
But let me explain my stand on the projects to you. When our leaders go to India, we are not aware of what transpires in the meetings and how biased agreements like the Upper Karnali and Arun III are signed. These decisions should be taken by our parliament. The parliament is kept in the dark on these issues. It is obvious that we will look to our neighbours for these projects, but they have to be mutually beneficial, not one sided. We are open to agreements, but they need to be done openly, and not behind closed doors.
Many would argue that India has played a positive role in the peace process to bring the parties together. How should it position itself against the new Nepal?
This is not true. India is merely trying to play the big brother. India is performing her duty as a neighbour by playing a peace-broker. To now extract personal benefit in the process isn’t correct. Our sovereignty needs to be respected. We need India’s help and support in making Nepal a better country. We also need help from China, America and the EU. But we are not willing to sacrifice our political sovereignty in the process. India needs to understand this.
Avalok Langer is a Correspondent with Tehelka.