According to your autobiography, former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa helped you and the Chaudhary group a lot, right?
The relationship with Surya Bahadur Thapa dates back to my father’s time and continues till now. During his political journey, we tried to fulfill all his expectations that he had with us. But in many instances, the closeness with him became our weakness, rather than our strength. After the 2036/37 elections, he was removed from power. The government that was formed afterwards was very much against him and we also had to deal with the repercussions. Our big projects were kept on hold. So we had both good and bad sides of the relationship. But in him, there was no change in attitude towards us.
So that means the relationship with Thapa was based on opportunities and prices?
Yes, but don’t take this otherwise. He didn’t want to give us any trouble knowingly.
Reading your book feels like you are an expert in dealing with political changes and opportunities. Like in the Panchayat time, you were close to Dhirendra Shah, later you became close to Surya Bahadur Thapa and, after democracy, you maintained closeness with UML. Right?
You can see this from another angle as well. Time forces people to maintain closeness. I had to do business with Dhirendra due to the need of that time. Rather than making profits from the investment, he gave me protection. Afterwards, the same security brought troubles. I was asked to give my industry to Golcha. One thing that no one should forget is that businessmen have relationship with everyone. So, rather than saying I used them, you have to analyze how time compels people to do things.
The ten year insurgency of Maoists made the whole economy suffer. But it didn’t have much impact on the Chaudhary Group. Is that due to your some special relations with Maoists?
You can call this our good luck, or the Maoists’ way of handling an industrial house. It’s not that we were completely trouble-free as well. CG Gram’s Executive Director was kidnapped for 15 days. Still, the fact that they didn’t have much negative feelings towards us is true.
In your life story you have stated that, in Apollo Steels, there was partnership with Dhirendra and later Prekshya asked for her shares. In the Wai-Wai Noodles, which was established in 2040 B.S., didn’t the Durbar ask for its shares?
It’s not that you have to have partnership on everything with the Royals. We hadn’t given partnership in all our industries to the Durbar. This was only the case in a few protected and monopoly sectors. So, in the case of Wai-Wai, there was no partnership with the Royals.
King Gyanendra gave you a tag of either a clever businessman or crook?
I think his expressions are mixed. I don’t think he has said clever about me in a positive way. And there is no room to call me a crook. As he himself has done business, he understands many of the business games.
You had great relations with Dhirendra and Dhirendra used to respect Birendra very much. But you haven’t stated anything about the relationship with King Birendra’s family?
Not all things can be accumulated in one book. I had very good relationships with Birendra. But later, Dhirendra’s relationship with Aishwarya and Prekshya soured. And the relationship with us also soured as we were close to Dhirendra.
(Excerpts based on the interview from Nepal News magazine)