Leader of Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party NARAYAN MAN BIJUKCCHE ROHIT is a very well known politician. As the leader of a radical communist outfit, Rohit has been able to save his party’s base in Bhaktapur in all political upheavals. At a time when the political crisis is getting protracted, Bijukchchhe spoke to KESHAB POUDEL at his residence in Bhaktapur on a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
As the political instability was growing, you floated the idea of the president rule to avert a major political crisis. It is reported that even our southern neighbor prefers such a rule for some sort of stability. What do you comment?
I don’t think Nepal’s southern neighbor likes the president rule to provide stability in Nepal. India always fishes in Nepal’s troubled water. It thinks that it will gain more from unstable and chaotic political situation here than from stability. The present political instability is in its interest. India does not only want security in Nepal but also wants to maximize other interests. It even supported to uproot monarchy from Nepal. India wants continuation of present instability. I am concerned about stability.
If, as you said, India is opposed to the idea, how do you see the possibility of president rule?
My opinion is directed by Nepal’s interest. If all political parties agree on that it is not impossible. I am not saying that the president should dismiss the government and take power by himself. He can act only under an all-party agreement and advice of cabinet.
Don’t you think it is a violation of the constitution?
If the president acts under such conditions, it will be in accordance with the constitution. Since there is no possibility for this Legislature Parliament to bring the budget, our financial situation would be the worst. To prevent this, political parties have no option better than to request the president take over the power for the time being.
What other considerations prompted you to float the idea of presidential rule?
My aim is to give three messages. First, it will send a message to the political parties that if they are unable to rule the country, the president will take over. Secondly, the move will help to give some sort of assurance to the people who are fed up with the present non-functional part of political parties. Third, the criminal elements who have been taking all advantages will be alert.
How can the president form the government?
If the president acts under the recommendation of political parties, he will ask political leaders to form the government. But, he will choose who is going to lead the government.
Do you mean an all party government?
It is not going to be an all party government. Once parties request the president, he will impose emergency and impose the presidential rule. And, it is the prerogative of the president to form the government.
When there is no such provision, how can the president act?
There is a provision to impose the emergency. The president can exercise this article but there is the need of an all party written agreement.
How practical is this?
My approach is practical and applicable to settle the present crisis. We have been telling the political parties that if they cannot run the government they have to request the president to do so. The country cannot go for a long without a government.
When you talk about the presidential rule, how is it possible for an institution which was set up just two years ago to establish legitimacy?
We have seen crumbling of the direct rule of the King, which had centuries-old tradition and legitimacy. The president is not an individual but an institution. Whatever we can say about it, it is a continuation of the previous institution of head of the state. The president can run the government through his own helping hands. I have been proposing all these because of failure of CA to elect the new government.
What will be the basis?
The basis for the presidential rule will be the request of all political parties and recommendation of the current prime minister.
Since there is no institution within the presidential secretariat to take such a function, who will look at this?
The present bureaucracy, police and army will support the president and act in accordance with his order. I don’t think the president’s secretariat needs to do something.
What is the difference between the presidential system and the presidential rule?
I am not preaching for a presidential system but just a president rule. This is just a temporary arrangement. Once there is political settlement, the president will hand over power to the political parties.
As you said India is not in favor of the presidential system, how can they support Nepal?
India can support the president’s rule not the presidential system. India has a long experience of presidential rule. The Indian central government has imposed president’s rule in the state whenever there is confusion.
Do you mean India will support the president’s rule?
If the president’s rule serves its interest, India will support it saying that it is an internal affairs of Nepal. In case, the presidential rule undermines India’s interest, it will oppose it. Had Nepalese leaders stood on their own and not signed the 12-point agreement in New Delhi under India’s presence, Nepal’s situation would not have been like this. Our party opposed this all the time.
How long will the present political situation last?
The present political situation will last for another three months till the expiry of the tenure of UNMIN.
But, political leaders are saying that they will compromise soon?
If that comes true, it is good. I also see such possibility after the recent visit of US president Barak Obama to India. I can assume that there is certain understanding between India and US on Nepal.
Don’t you think your suggestions will be counterproductive or like the steps taken by King Gyanendra on February 2, 2005?
The stature of King and the President is different. We must not forget that the present President is not King Gyanendra as he was elected by us. King Gyanendra was not elected by political parties. Sometimes it depends on personality factor. Had there been Girija Prasad Koirala as a president, your concern would have held more validity. As the president is Dr. Ram Varan Yadav, he cannot go for a long period of time. Koirala was a man of action but Dr. Yadav is different.
How much valid are the present comments by various forces that Chinese are more active in Nepal?
Chinese presence has been there in Nepal for a long time and they are looking at their interests. This is a hue and cry of Indians who want to intervene by showing the world that Chinese are active in Nepal. India is provoking China also.
Don’t you think the number of Chinese delegations coming to Nepal and Maoist leaders’ frequent visit to China prove India’s accusations?The visit has been there all the time. Indians know this well. What Indians want to show is that Chinese activities compelled them to intervene. So far as visit by Maoists is concerned, other leaders are also visiting China. The difference is that Maoist leaders issued public statement all the time to show to the Nepalese people that they have good relations with China.
Are Chinese treating Maoists differently?
China treats all Nepalese political parties equally. UCPN-Maoist is not an exception. China has never exported Maoist ideology in Nepal as they see Maoism as a Chinese perspective for the implementation of Marxism and Leninism. It is an American scholar Maoist or Maoism.
How do you see China’s relations with Nepal?
China has cultural and political relations with Nepal. But, it does not have social relations with Nepal like that of India.
How much logic do you see in a statement that Chinese are searching for reliable partners after the removal of monarchy?
It is a fabrication. China sees all political forces in Nepal are reliable partners. So far as monarchy is concerned, China never accepted monarchy as a reliable partner. What I can say is that China did not confront with the monarchy as it perceived monarchy as a factor of stability. China’s policy has been that it always backs forces that give stability in Nepal. You may remember a high level Chinese delegation visited Nepal just a few weeks before Janandolan II, meeting the leaders of seven political parties and the King. The message of Chinese leaders was the same: unity of all political parties for stability and progress of Nepal.
Then why are Maoists trying to portray that their China visit was important?
It is the Maoist strategy to show that they are closer to China. Of course, the Chinese cannot ignore Maoists since it is the largest party with a capacity to lead the government. Maoists too need to woo the Chinese support. It does not mean that China ignores other parties. Delegations of other parties have also been visiting China. As there is open border with India, a lot of Nepalese delegations visit India and nobody notices them.
How do you view the state of relations between Maoists and India?India wants Maoists in opposition. That is all. India helped to popularize communist movement in Nepal as it backed Maoists. Had India any ideological inspiration, it would have popularized it within their country.
Why did India support Maoist or communist movement in Nepal?Indians supported Nepalese Maoists because they want to impose their own terms though Maoists. Indians are worried now that if Maoists turned into real communists, that will have a long run effect in India. India has brought devils from the box but now they want to put Maoists back in the same box. Indians are trying to downsize Maoists at any cost.
Are Maoists now more patriotic than NC and CPN-UML?
I am not saying who is patriotic or not. But, Maoist leaders cannot fulfill all the demands. If Maoists had given what India wanted, they would have formed the government a long time back.
You seem to suggest Maoists are created by India. If that is so why are not they reliable?
Of course, Maoists are created by India but there is no guarantee that they will always abide by Indians. For instance, a capitalist invests in factory employing a lot of workers. Finally, it is the workers who create trouble to capitalists who employed them.
You are also saying that Maoists are no more a communist and revolutionary. If that is so why does one need to worry with them?There is no doubt that Maoists are neither communists nor revolutionaries. Indians are worried on the expansion of their party bases. After opening, various elements have already entered in the Maoist ranks and files and they can create troubles. There are forces like monarchists who held the view that monarchy was removed because of Indian pressure.
What options do we have for the nation other than the presidential rule?
The best option for all political parties will be to work together. This will avoid the presidential rule. If the situation goes out of control, presidential rule is inevitable.
If Nepal’s political instability prolongs, India and China will be the first countries to face the consequences. As the number of activities of westerners grows, it will create problems for both. In that context, don’t you think they will back the factor of stability?
Diplomatically, they wish for it, but their national interests guide them. National interest is based on reality. Naturally, India has larger stakes in Nepal. China and India will see their own interests but it is the Nepalis who need to protect our interests. China has its own capability and strength to check its interests in Nepal and India too has its own strength. In some cases, Nepal’s instability may suit to India. Following debacles in Nepal, we can see the rise of economy of Bihar.
Countries have their divergent interests. China and India too are not exceptional. In this context, my question is, don’t you think there is a possibility to arrive at some sort of understanding for stability in Nepal?
Recent suggestions given by Chinese leaders to Maoist leader Prachanda that Nepal needs to have good relations with India indicated that they can agree on the factor of stability.
How do you view Maoist leader Prachanda who claims that he is patriotic and always criticized India for its intervention?
You need to see actions rather than words. Do you know how many patriotic steps Prachanda has taken during his tenure? By criticizing India, one cannot be a patriot. Don’t go with the name but follow his actions. UCPN-Maoist is a capitalist party. Its actions are directed by capitalists.
Congress leaders are saying that Maoists are building new relations with former King Gyanendra. How possible do you see will be the comeback of monarchy in Nepal?
I don’t think there is a possibility of revival of monarchy. The present act of former King will not bring monarchy back. If we see the case of Afghanistan, the King declined to be in throne again. One of the global trends is that every force which is out of power makes efforts to come back.
Do you think the new constitution will be promulgated by May?
There will be constitution but it will not be written to bring political stability. Federal structure, on the basis of ethnicity, the new constitution will invite more instability and chaos. We must take note that the scholars who are encouraging ethnic based federal structures are those who either get degrees from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi or American Universities. If federal constitution is written, the forces which don’t want stability in Nepal will prevail.
Some liken Nepal’s situation to that of Lebanon. How do you see this?
Nepal’s geography and ethnicity is different than Lebanon. Lebanon is basically a Muslim dominated country but Nepal is a multi-cultural, religious and multi-linguistic country. Along with this, Nepal is between two big powers, India and China.
How much is China concerned about Nepal’s independence?
If Nepalese are unable to protect their own interest and sovereignty, I don’t think Chinese will come to protect us. We have to protect our own interests. I don’t believe that China will get involved in internal politics of Nepal.
Then why are Chinese so concerned about Tibet and anti-Tibet activities in Nepal?
Tibet is an integral part of China and they will never tolerate any hostile act against it from any part of the world including Nepal.
Where do you see the presence of China in Nepal?
Chinese presence has been there in Nepal but they will not get involved in internal conflicts and politics in Nepal. Chinese will give a long rope to other forces. Of course, India and other western powers want to indulge the country like in China in small country like Nepal. So far as their national behavior is concerned, Chinese are very pragmatic. If China indulges in Nepal’s internal matter and politics, Indians and Americans will be happier.
Do you mean China has defensive position in Nepal?
China does not have any aggressive design against Nepal, what it wants is a stable, strong and prosperous Nepal. China believes that stable and prosperous Nepal can safe guard its interest.