Since the fall of his government more than a year ago, UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has stressed the singular agenda of pulling down his successor government and forming a new one under his own leadership. His party has launched protests of several forms from street agitation to blockade and boycott of the legislature parliament. But none of their pressure tactics has shaken the UML-led coalition. After a weeklong meeting of the party’s politburo, UCPN-Maoist chairman has come out as victorious. Despite several speculations over the position of Maoist chairman Prachanda weakening, he finally was able to put his own agenda, pushing his rival colleague Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai at bay. With the completion of politburo meeting, UCPN-Maoist leader Prachanda addressed the press conference on Saturday at his party’s central office in Paris Hill, Koteshwor. Excerpts of Dahal’s hour long interactions with media:
You have been projecting yourself as a leader of the next government. But your party has decided not to name any particular leader as a candidate for prime ministership now. Is not it a defeat of your program?
First of all, our party has had a stand for quite a long time that the next government will be formed under the leadership of UCPN-Maoist. The recently concluded meeting also reiterated its stand again.
What about your leadership?
There is no dispute about forming the next government under my leadership. Since I am the party leader, it is natural for me to lead the future government.
But newspapers have reported that your party took a different stand?
I don’t know what was published in the newspapers and what somebody wished for. So far as the question of leading the government is concerned, UCPN-Maoist has not changed its stand.
Do you believe that the next national government will be formed under your prime ministership?
Since our party has already said that the next government will be formed under the leadership of UCPN-Maoist and under the leadership of party chairman, I would like to request journalists to understand the language. Don’t try to understand too many things.
This means you are going to lead the next government?
Our demand is that the next government should be formed under the leadership of UCPN-Maoist. An individual does not matter to us but what matters is the party.
Whatever you claim, your party has not named the person to lead the government?
If other parties offer us to form the government, we will give the name of the person to lead the government. I have told you that we don’t have any differences and disputes over the prime ministership.
Your party has been demanding a consensus government. If your party is given a chance to form a majority government, what will you do?
We remain open to form consensus and majority governments. We will be ready to stake the claim to form a national government either way. Our politburo has made it clear that UCPN-Maoist should be given the opportunity to form the government.
Your party has been claiming a stake to form the next government. At the same time, however, it has decided to stop the proceedings of the Legislature-Parliament. Is not this contradictory?
Our stand is clear. As long as this government does not resign, we will not allow the Legislature-Parliament to function. This government has not the right to summon the Legislature-Parliament. If the prime minister wants to see the House functioning, he must resign. We will not compromise on this stand.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has already made it clear that he will not resign under pressure, don’t you think your decision will prolong the life of this government?
This is an illegitimate and puppet government formed under the backing of foreign elements and reactionary forces. We will not allow the Legislature-Parliament to work for it. This is the decision of our party.
What about the constitution making process?
We can write the constitution in time but there is no sense to start the proceeding of constitution writing till this government is in power. Constituent Assembly is our baby and we want to save this.
Your party has also said that there is a need of a grand alliance of nationalist and progressive forces to protect the national interest? Who are these forces?
We have made it clear that the existing crisis is also a threat to Nepal’s nationality and nation. We want to unite all patriotic forces to defeat the puppet and anti-national forces. We are ready to share with anybody so far as the safeguarding the interest of nation is concerned.
Will you join with monarchist and former King Gyanendra?
Our stand is that our party wants to unite all the nationalist forces to end the hegemony of a certain country. We want to make Nepal free, sovereign and independent, a country without any foreign interference.
Which do you mean is the country which interferes in our internal affairs?
(Laughs.) All of you know which that country is.
When will your party hold the general convention?
Since the peace process and constitution making are the most important tasks, our party has decided to postpone our convention till the next year. We have decided to summon our central meeting in October.
Political parties have been saying that they will not accept your leadership until the integration of Maoist combatants. What is your party’s recent stand on integration?
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement has not said anything about the number of combatants to be integrated in the security forces. The spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is that all the combatants certified by United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) are qualified for integration in security forces.
What do you say to other political parties which are demanding from you the exact number of such combatants?
Such demands are against the spirit of CPA. Those who are demanding the numbers do not want to take the peace process to a logical end. We are clear that all 19,000 combatants are eligible for integration.
What is the stand of UCPN-Maoist politburo on this?
Our view is that integration of our People’s Army as a separate unit or separate force is the best and easier option. Politburo meeting directed us to discuss this issue with other political parties in this modality. Since CPA does not recommend specific modality for the integration of People’s Army, our meeting recommends settling the modality on the basis of political consensus.
Will other parties agree on your proposal?
The ruling parties have been stressing the existing recruitment criteria for integration. However, Nepal’s CPA has its own characteristics. We cannot accept the existing recruitment standards but there is the need to rethink standards for integration. We have not signed CPA to send our army for recruitment but we signed CPA to integrate our PLA on an equal footing with other security forces.
Is there any ground for this?
Look. Even the Interim Constitution and CPA place Nepal Army and People’s Liberation Army in the same status and level. Is it not enough to demand integration of PLA without any recruitment standards?
Do you mean the partial integration is not acceptable to you?
Yes. There is no question to accept the proposal for partial integration of PLA in the security forces. Our politburo has made it clear that the process of integration will start only after the formulation of new national security policy and integration should go side by side with the process of constitution making.
How long will this deadlock last?
As long as the puppet government led by Madhav Kumar Nepal continues in power, this crisis is going to continue. Resignation of prime minister is the bottom line to settle the political crisis.
What kinds of programs will you bring to bear pressure on the government?
Our struggle is in three fronts: Sadak (road), Sadan (Parliament) and Sarkar (Government). We will attack this government from all these fronts.