Interview with Prachanda, Nepalese Maoist Leader: The Hindu

From "David Ewing" <>
Date Tue, 14 Feb 2006 16:14:23 -0800

The Hindu
>Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 15:54:43 EST
>Exclusive interview with  Prachanda, Maoist leader
>This is a complete verbatim transcript of Nepali Maoist  leader Prachanda's
>interview with Siddharth Varadarajan of The Hindu,  conducted at an 
>location in the first week of February 2006.  Highlights and excerpts from
>the interview were published in the print edition  of The Hindu of February 
>9, and 10, 2006.
>Varadarajan: Your party has waged a "people's war" in  Nepal for 10 years 
>the anniversary is now coming up. There are some who say  that this war - 
>the Royal Nepal Army's counter-insurgency campaign - has  cost the country
>dearly in terms of the violence and bloodshed that has  accompanied it. In 
>estimation, what has been the main accomplishment of  these 10 years?
>Prachanda: For 250 years, our peoples have been  exploited under the
>oppression of feudal lords. The people's war has helped  crush the feudal 
>structure in
>the rural areas. We think this is the main  achievement. Also, in the 
>sense we feel that in Nepal there is going to  be a great leap forward in 
>socio-economic condition because we are going to  lead the country to a
>democratic republican structure. A political situation has  been developed 
>this process, and we feel this is also a very big  achievement of the 
>Varadarajan: In your party plenum last August in Rolpa,  you took a 
>decision - to strive for and participate in multiparty  democracy. If you
>were going to accept multiparty democracy after 10 years of  war, why go 
>this in a roundabout way?
>Prachanda: I want to answer your question in two  parts. There is the whole
>theoretical and ideological question that we are  trying to develop, 
>because we
>want to analyse the experience of revolution and  counter-revolution in the
>20th century on a new basis. Three years ago we took a  decision in which 
>said how are we going to develop democracy is the key  question in the 21st
>century. This meant the negative and positive lessons of  the 20th century 
>have to
>be synthesised in order for us to move ahead. And three  years ago we 
>we must go in for political competition. Without political  competition, a
>mechanical or metaphysical attitude will be there. So this time,  what we
>decided is not so new. In August, we took serious decisions on how  
>practically to
>build unity with the parliamentary political parties. We don't  believe 
>the people's war we initiated was against, or mainly against,  multiparty
>democracy. It was mainly against feudal autocracy, against the feudal  
>Varadarajan: How difficult was it for your party to  come to this decision?
>How difficult was it to build consensus on the need for  multiparty 
>within the leadership and cadres?
>Prachanda: An agenda was first presented to the  Central Committee on
>democracy. Then there was an internal debate within the  party rank and 
>file for a
>whole year. After that, the CC plenum unanimously  decided that within a
>definite constitutional framework we have to go in for  competition. 
>competition, we will not be able to go forward. This was a  unanimous 
>Varadarajan: Is this decision a recognition by you of  the impossibility of
>seizing power through armed struggle? That because of the  strength of the 
>and the opposition of the international community, a new  form of struggle 
>needed in order to overthrow the monarchy?
>Prachanda: Here again there is not only one  question. There is a 
>to the political and military balance in  today's world. This has to be 
>The second thing to be seen is the  experience of the 20th century. Third,
>there is the particular situation in the  country - the class, political 
>power balance. It is by taking these three  together that we came to our
>conclusion. We are talking of multiparty democracy  in a specific sense, 
>within a
>specific constitutional framework. We are not  talking about bourgeois
>parliamentary democracy. This multiparty democracy will  be 
>anti-imperialist and
>anti-feudal. In other words, only within an anti-feudal,  anti-imperialist
>constitutional framework is multiparty democracy possible. That  is why 
>armed struggle is
>also necessary, and unity in action with the other  political parties 
>the monarchy is also a necessity. The socio-economic  change we are 
>for is against feudalism and imperialism and it is within  the context of 
>struggle that we are talking of multiparty democracy.
>Road map to democratic republic
>Varadarajan: So if the king announces tomorrow that the  steps he took last
>year were wrong and allows free and fair elections under the  present
>Constitution, the Maoists will not take part? Is a new constitutional  
>framework a
>pre-condition for taking part in elections?
>Prachanda: Yes, you can put it that way. If the  king says that I was wrong
>to have done what I did last year, now come on, let  us sit across the 
>and then he talks of a free and fair election to a  constituent assembly, 
>we will be ready. Our minimum, bottom line is the  election of a 
>assembly, that too under international supervision,  either by the United
>Nations or some other international mediation acceptable to  all. Under 
>circumstances, we will go in for elections and accept whatever  the 
>verdict is. This is our bottom line. But if the king says, come on,  make 
>an interim
>government and hold elections, we will not come forward.
>Varadarajan: But will you oppose the parties doing  that? If the parties
>agree to go ahead on this interim basis, what will happen  to your alliance 
>agreement with the parties?
>Prachanda: If the king asks them to form a  government and the parties go 
>for parliamentary elections without looking at  the demands we have been
>making for the past 10 years, it would be difficult for  us to go along 
>with the
>parties. Because this is what you had before. The king  and the parties 
>together for 7-8 years. That was the situation. And still  there was 
>because the demand for a constituent assembly is a  longstanding one. It is 
>a demand that came up only today.
>Varadarajan: How crucial was the August plenum decision  on multiparty
>democracy to paving the way for the 12-point agreement with the  parties?
>Prachanda: After the Royal Palace massacre itself,  we had made an appeal 
>the parliamentary parties. There was a general  understanding and some
>meetings were also held because the 2001 royal massacre  was against 
>democracy. In
>the 1990 movement, we were together with the Congress  and UML [Unified
>Marxists-Leninists]. We felt the change that was needed in  Nepal was 
>feudalism but the parliamentary parties were not ready for  this. For three 
>years we
>struggled inside Parliament. For three years we were  there. Our 40-point
>demands were placed but there was not even any discussion on  this. So the 
>seeds of
>our armed struggle were sown inside Parliament, in a  manner of speaking.
>This is a very big difference between us and, say, those in  India who say 
>are waging a people's war. They didn't begin from inside  Parliament. We 
>inside Parliament, so we had good relations with the  parliamentary parties 
>a long time.
>The 1990 movement produced limited gains. We could have  taken more but got
>less from the palace because of a compromise. At the time we  said the 
>peoples have been cheated. We said this compromise was bad and  that there 
>a danger of the palace grabbing power again, as had happened in  Mahendra's
>time. We said this from the rostrum of Parliament but the other  parties 
>did not
>have the courage even to act against those elements from the  panchayat
>system that the Malik commission had identified as criminals. And  
>gradually a
>situation arose where those elements were able to enter the parties,  the
>After the palace massacre, we said that what we had  predicted in 1990 had
>come to pass, that diehard elements have hatched a  conspiracy and come 
>And we appealed to the parties to unite together as  we had done in 1990. 
>parties were in government so it was not possible for  them to understand 
>appeal. But slowly, the king's designs became clearer: he  dissolved
>Parliament, dismissed the government and took direct power. This is  when I 
>think the
>parties realised they had been taken for a ride all this time.  This is 
>when our plenum took concrete steps on the question of multiparty  
>And our statement stressed that the time had come for all the  
>parties to join hands with our movement and civil society to fight  against
>autocracy and monarchy.
>At the plenum, we decided we needed to show more  flexibility, that it was
>our duty to do this. So we took concrete steps and  declared to the 
>'You lead, we will support you.' This so-called king -  he is not a 
>king and the Nepali people do not accept him as king. He  and his group are
>well-known goons and people see them as a  regicidal-fratricidal clique. He 
>not even a person who is capable of thinking  politically. So we told the
>parties, come on, we want to help you. Before the  plenum, we contacted the 
>Congress and UML leaders and tried to bring them  to Rolpa. But this was 
>Commitment to democracy not a tactic
>Varadarajan: Nowadays, we hear the phrase 'The Maoists  will sit on the
>shoulders and hit on the head.' Does this mean your alliance  with the 
>parties is
>tactical rather than strategic, that when the head - the  monarchy - is
>weakened or defeated, you might then start hitting the shoulder?
>Prachanda: It is not like this. Our decision on  multiparty democracy is a
>strategically, theoretically developed position, that  in a communist 
>democracy is a necessity. This is one part. Second, our  decision within 
>situation today is not tactical. It is a serious policy. We  are telling 
>parties that we should end not only the autocratic monarchy but  monarchy 
>This is not even a monarchy in the traditional way it was in  Birendra's 
>so we have to finish it. After that, in the multiparty  democracy which 
>- interim government, constitutional assembly and  democratic republic - we
>are ready to have peaceful competition with you all. Of  course, people 
>have a doubt about us because we have an army. And they ask  whether after 
>constitutional assembly we will abandon our arms. This is a  question. We 
>said we are ready to reorganise our army and we are ready to  make a new 
>army also. So this is not a tactical question.
>Varadarajan: The 12-point agreement suggests you and  the political parties
>have met each other half-way. They have agreed to a  constitutional 
>and you have dropped your insistence on a republic.
>Prachanda: We have not dropped our demand for a  democratic republic. But 
>achieve that minimum political slogan, we have said  we are prepared to go
>through free and fair elections to a constituent assembly.  There shouldn't 
>any confusion that we have now agreed to a ceremonial  monarchy. Some 
>have tried to draw this conclusion from the 12-point  agreement but even at 
>time we explained to the parties that our slogan is a  democratic republic.
>Earlier, we were saying people's democratic republic but  this does not 
>mean we
>have dropped that goal either. It's just that according to  today's power
>balance, seeing the whole situation and the expectation of the  masses, and 
>there [should] not be bloodshed, we also responsibly believe  that to get 
>too we will do so through peaceful means.
>Varadarajan: So the struggle for "people's democracy"  will also be 
>Prachanda: We will go for the goal of the people's  democracy through
>peaceful means. Today, we are talking of a democratic republic  and our 
>with the parties is that the way to realise this is the  constituent
>assembly. At that time, any other party would be free to call for a  
>monarchy, some may be for constitutional monarchy - such a thing is  
>possible with
>the seven parties.
>Varadarajan: But whatever the outcome, you are ready to  accept it.
>Prachanda: We are ready to accept whatever is the  outcome. This we are
>saying in clear-cut language.
>Logic of ceasefire
>Varadarajan: Your three-month ceasefire, and then the  one month extension,
>did a lot to improve the profile and image of the Maoists,  which had been
>damaged by certain incidents like the Madi bus blast. What was  the logic 
>that ceasefire and what are the roadblocks in the way of  declaring another
>ceasefire in the near future?
>Prachanda: When we called our ceasefire, there was  no 12-point agreement
>with the parties nor was there any particular political or  moral pressure 
>on us
>from them or civil society. But we acted based on the whole  political
>situation, because on our side too, some mistakes were increasing,  from 
>below, in
>the implementation of our policy and plan. At the lower level,  some 
>were happening such as the Madi bomb blast. So with the middle  class our
>relationship was getting worse. Earlier, there was an upward trend in  that
>relationship but we felt there was a danger of the graph falling. We were  
>things from the top but still this was not being implemented. So we  wanted 
>middle classes to be with us, and put out our political message to  the 
>masses in a new way. We also wanted to tell the international  community 
>Gyanendra is not a monarch, these are autocratic, fascist  elements who are 
>keen on bloodshed and violence than anybody else. We  wanted to demonstrate
>this, and rehabilitate our image with the masses. So for  these reasons we
>decided to go for a ceasefire.
>As for the specific timing, there were two factors. The UN  General 
>was going to be held and the so-called king was going to go  there. There 
>would have said he was for peace and democracy. Such a notorious  element 
>going to go and create confusion over there. This possibility also  needed 
>be crushed. This was a question. So we thought of a ceasefire as one  way
>politically to hit out at him.
>It was only after the ceasefire that the dialogue with the  political 
>began. And then a conducive atmosphere got created for the  12-point
>agreement. We also wanted to send a message to the international  community 
>that we
>were different from the way we were being projected  ideologically. For 
>right now we are having discussions with the  European Union and with 
>but among all the international forces, U.S.  imperialism is the most
>dogmatic and sectarian element. The U.S. ruling classes  are dogmatic. They 
>understand what is happening. We are trying to look at  the world in a new 
>to change in a new way, and we wanted to send out this  message. And in 
>regard, during the ceasefire, we were quite successful.
>Right from the outset, we knew the monarch wanted us to  abandon the
>ceasefire immediately. He was under so much pressure, he had to  cancel his 
>of going to the U.N. He was so politically isolated that he  was desperate 
>provoke us to break the ceasefire. We knew that we had to  sacrifice and
>ensure that for three months at least it was upheld because there  were 
>and we wanted to develop our psychological relations, spiritual  relations
>with the masses. When we extended the ceasefire by a month, it became  
>established that this so-called monarch does not want a political  
>does not want peace. He is a bloodthirsty element, a fascist and  autocrat. 
>when we finally ended the ceasefire, we clearly stated that if a
>forward-looking atmosphere for a political solution emerges, and all the  
>political forces
>are ready for peace and democracy, then in that situation at  any time we 
>again announce a ceasefire, and sit down for negotiations. But  now, that
>situation does not obtain.
>Nature of alliance with parties
>Varadarajan: As a first step, are you prepared to join  together with the
>parliamentary parties, with Mr. Koirala and Madhav Nepal, and  go and talk
>face-to-face with the king to discuss the future of Nepal?
>Prachanda: Immediately after the 12-point  agreement, I had clearly said 
>if there is a unanimous understanding with  the parties that we should go 
>talk to the king, then we will go. We are not  prepared to meet the king
>alone, and we are also requesting the parties that  they should also not go 
>Nothing will come of it. Only if we act  collectively can we achieve
>anything. The alliance has to be strengthened and  taken forward. For 
>example, right
>now we have this huge drama of municipal  elections. More than two-thirds 
>the seats will be vacant, and still he is  trying to stage a drama.
>Varadarajan: But rather than the Maoists calling a  seven-day bandh, 
>it have been better as a tactic for you and the  parties to have given a
>united call for the political boycott of the elections.  That way, the king 
>not get the opportunity to claim the elections were a  farce because of 
>Prachanda: Yes. I agree with what you are saying.  That would have been
>better. When the 12-point agreement was reached, there was  a second 
>that within a week or two, we eight parties - the seven  party alliance and
>the Maoists - would issue a joint statement appealing to the  masses to 
>elections and stage mass demonstrations. But that has not  proved possible.
>Varadarajan: Why?
>Prachanda: Because the parties' leadership is a  little hesitant. They are
>perhaps a little afraid that if they join with the  Maoists and issue a 
>statement for boycott, there could be greater  repression on them. I think 
>could be a factor, though we have not had  face-to-face discussions on this
>with them.
>Varadarajan: Some feel that the Maoists' military  actions are reducing the
>political space for the parties. For example, a few  days before the 
>were planning a big demonstration in Kathmandu, the  Maoists attacked a 
>station in Thankot and the king got the opportunity to  impose curfew, 
>ensuring the demonstration failed. Have you considered  what actions you 
>to take so that your political space also increases but  the parties don't
>feel squeezed between the king and you?
>Prachanda: I agree a way has to be found. This is a  serious and 
>question. When the 12-point agreement was reached, there  was a need for
>continuous interaction between us and them. There was need for  several 
>Only then could we establish some synchronicity between their  movement and
>ours. This did not happen. Despite this, we told the parties  through other
>mediums that whether we stage actions or not, the king is still  going to 
>against you. This is the same king, the same goons - he is also a  very big
>smuggler - who made sure we couldn't peacefully demonstrate. When we  went 
>negotiations in Kathmandu and our team was there, we decided to have a  big 
>there. Sher Bahadur Deuba was the Prime Minister at the time. But  the RNA
>and Gyanendra insisted we could not have such a rally and threatened  
>They compelled us to move the meeting to Chitwan. So we told Girija and  
>that even if we had done nothing in Thankot, they would not have allowed  
>big demonstration. Curfew would have been imposed anyway. Instead, Thankot
>has put Gyanendra under greater pressure.
>Nature of monarch
>Varadarajan: You mentioned the RNA and I would like  your assessment: Does
>the king control the RNA or does the RNA control the king?
>Prachanda: This is a very interesting question.  Right now, in fact, this 
>precisely what we are discussing within our party  and outside. Until now, 
>seemed the balance was 50-50. Sometimes the RNA runs  the king, and 
>the king runs the RNA. But it seems as if we are now  going towards a
>situation where the RNA is in the driving seat. It seems as if  power in 
>the hands of
>Gyanendra is decreasing and he is doing what the RNA  dictates. This seems 
>be the emerging situation but we cannot say this with  facts. But looking 
>the overall situation, it seems that Gyanendra is going  down the path laid 
>by the RNA. One thing is clear. He became king after the  royal massacre -
>and it is clear that without the RNA, that massacre could never  have 
>the Army core team was in the Narayanhiti palace and they are the  ones who
>engineered the massacre. So he was made king in the same way as before,  
>the Rana days, when Tribhuvan fled and came to India and Gyanendra as a  
>boy was put on the throne. So there is no question of his going beyond the
>script dictated by the RNA. And this small clique of feudal aristocrats
>designed  the royal massacre and is dominant. The manner in which he became 
>obliges  Gyanendra to follow their direction.
>Varadarajan: I too was in Kathmandu immediately after  the palace massacre 
>cover the story. Like many reporters, I was initially  suspicious of the
>Dipendra theory but later, after managing to meet some of the  closest 
>of those who died, who spoke to actual survivors like Ketaki  Chester and
>others who cannot really be termed as people connected to any  monarchical 
>with a particular agenda. And they all said it was Dipendra  who committed 
>Prachanda: This is impossible. Of course, the  clique has managed to
>establish the story amongst its own circles, among people  who may be 
>neutral as you
>say. They have established it in their class but that  is not the reality. 
>know how different stories were put out immediately.  First that the guns 
>off automatically, then another story was made. There  was even an effort 
>suggest the Maoists had made a surprise attack. In the  end, they pinned it 
>Dipendra. So the question arises, if it was so clear-cut,  why didn't this
>story come out in the beginning? But my main logic is not this.  If you 
>look at
>the whole history of [crown prince] Paras - he was there at the  time - now
>the whole history of Paras is well-known. Second, the role of  Gyanendra in 
>1990 movement. He had a big role then - he wanted to shoot down  2,000 
>in Kathmandu and control the movement through force, he was a  die-hard
>element. Even Surya Bahadur Thapa used to call them the bhoomigat  giroh, 
>underground clique, and their leader was Gyanendra.What kind of goon  Paras 
>was -
>this is also known. For more than a month, the massacre was planned  and
>Gyanendra based himself outside. So I don't think for even a moment that it 
>  was
>Dipendra. And in any case, the Nepali people simply refuse to believe this  
>Reorganisation of PLA and RNA
>Varadarajan: Let us say a situation is created for a  constituent assembly.
>In the run-up to that, the People's Liberation Army is not  going to lay 
>its arms. Is it not possible that the parliamentary parties  will feel
>themselves threatened by your dependence on arms? What kind of  guarantees 
>can you
>give in the run-up to any election that there will be no  obstacle placed 
>by you
>or the PLA in the political mobilisation by the parties?
>Prachanda: When we had discussions and had an  agreement last year - and we
>hope to meet again and take things forward after  these municipal elections 
>we said we understand you have doubts and  reservations about us and our 
>We want a political solution to Nepal's  problems, a democratic solution. 
>we made a proposal that you rehabilitate  Parliament, we will support you. 
>two-thirds majority of MPs is with the Nepali  Congress, UML and smaller
>parties. Call a meeting and declare that Parliament  has been reinstated, 
>that this
>is the legitimate parliament and that what  Gyanendra is doing is 
>and illegal. Do this and then set up a  multiparty government. We will not 
>part of it but will support it. And then  you invite us for negotiations 
>we will come forward. After that, there will  be a move to set up an 
>government, and the main aim of that government  will be to have elections 
>for a
>constituent assembly.
>In this rehabilitation and restoration of Parliament,  there is no need to
>have anything to do with the king. He would have become  illegal anyway. He 
>violated the constitution and also people's expectations  for peace and
>democracy. So he would be illegal, your parliament would be legal  and we 
>fully accept the legality of your parliament. We will come for  
>negotiations with
>your leadership. Under your leadership, we will be in the  interim 
>As for the RNA, you should appeal to the democratic  elements within it by
>saying the king has violated the constitution, and the  expectations of the
>masses, you come over to this side, this is the legal  government and it is 
>responsibility to support it. And then the king should  be given an 
>of a week or two weeks - that he should move back to the  status quo ante
>before February 1, 2005 and agree to elections for a constituent  assembly. 
>If he
>doesn't agree, we would then abolish the monarchy. And we would  tell the
>international community, this is the legitimate government, please stop
>recognising or supporting him. Ours is a legitimate government and this 
>should  be under
>the leadership of Girija Prasad Koirala. We are ready to support this.
>Under such a situation, the democratic elements of RNA  will be there, and 
>will the PLA, so we will organise the army as a new Nepal  army. At that
>point, the problem will not be our weapons. The problem of arms  and 
>weapons is
>with the RNA which for 250 years has been loyal to the feudal  lords. That 
>the problem. Our army has only been around for 10 years. This is  not a 
>If there is a political solution, we are prepared to change that  too. This
>is the first proposal that we have put forward. We will abolish the  
>there will be an insurrection (bidroh), the kingship will be over and  then 
>will have the peaceful reorganisation of the army.
>This is one way to deal with this problem and we are  seriously putting it
>forward. It is revolutionary, it is viable, it is possible.  It is 
>precisely in
>this way that it is necessary to end the monarchy in Nepal.  This is our 
>proposal and I feel the parties are not ready for this.
>Varadarajan: What you are proposing is that the  parliamentary parties 
>a revolution!
>Prachanda: Yes, but we feel their role can be a  historic one. But they are
>not ready. The second way is also what we have been  discussing, that the 
>or some other credible body will supervise things. The  RNA will be in the
>barracks and the PLA will also be under supervision. Both  armies and arms 
>be under international supervision and will not enter the  fray. Then there
>will be elections for a constitutional assembly. Our army will  not 
>interfere in
>the process.
>Varadarajan: But what form will this international  supervision take? Will 
>include foreign troops?
>Prachanda: No troops. There can be a militia or  police, which we create 
>for election purposes.
>Varadarajan: Who will be part of this militia?
>Prachanda: We have not gone into such details -  there can be the cadres of
>the different parties, but all without firearms, to  manage security for 
>elections. So there will be elections for the assembly  and whatever 
>verdict of
>the masses comes, it is on that basis that the army has  to be reorganised. 
>the republic result comes, then the RNA's generals and  commanders will 
>to go and the interim government would appoint as generals  officers who 
>loyal to democratic values. If a constitutional monarchy wins,  then there 
>the danger that the old generals will remain. So my point is that  the army 
>be changed. This is the underlying idea behind the 12-point  agreement and
>the parties also agree with this.
>Varadarajan: So you are saying the problem of the PLA  and its arms is not 
>big problem.
>Prachanda: It is certainly not a problem the way  people outside believe. 
>there is political will on our side and the parties,  it can be solved.
>Varadarajan: But you concede there is a history, which  is why the parties
>are suspicious.
>Prachanda: Yes there is, but we are talking about  this too. There have 
>attacks by us on them, and we had seized property.  Whatever had been taken
>from the Congress leadership has been returned - land  and property - UML
>leadership too. So we are trying to build an understanding.  If the 
>parties' leaders
>say that in the past the Maoists attacked us, then we  can also say that 
>RNA army was deployed against us when you were in  government and so many 
>our comrades were killed. Whatever we may have done,  the other side did so
>much more and this also has to be accounted for. But if we  start talking 
>this, we will not be able to solve the major problem. If we  have to make a 
>eakthrough, then we should both review our history. We have to  review our
>mistakes but you have to as well, because we have a common enemy -  feudal
>aristocracy. We have to defeat this enemy and in consonance with  
>democratic values we
>have to reorganise the army and state.
>Role of India, China, and U.S.
>Varadarajan: How do you see the role of India today?  Last year, when the
>King seized power, India took a tough stand against him  which surprised 
>Today, this policy has its critics but the bottom line is  that the Indian
>Government does not seem to regard the Nepal Maoists as  illegitimate in 
>the way
>that the king and the U.S. regard them.
>Prachanda: In the past, India's role was not good.  It was a policy of 
>alignment with the king. Last year, after February 1,  when the situation
>changed in a big way, the role of the Indian authorities  strikes us as 
>There is now a tough stand against autocracy. Still, the  two-pillar theory
>[that Nepal's stability rests equally on constitutional  monarchy and 
>democracy] persists and the Indian authorities have not  officially 
>this theory. They haven't said there is need for only one  pillar. So
>officially, India is still sticking to the two-pillar theory and we  want 
>the Indian
>authorities to change this theory. They are right to support the  
>movement, but sticking to the two-pillar theory causes confusion.
>Varadarajan: But if India abandons it, wouldn't the  King accuse the 
>of interfering in Nepal's affairs, and then he will  accuse the Maoists of
>being agents of India.
>Prachanda: We do not think such a thing is  possible. During the 1990
>movement, when Rajiv Gandhi imposed a blockade on  Nepal, the Nepali people 
>did not
>oppose the blockade because it was in the  context of the blockade that the
>democratic movement picked up speed and  advanced very fast. If India is in
>favour of the democratic movement and a  forward-looking political 
>solution, then
>it will not be considered intervention.  But if India supports regressive
>forces, this would be called intervention.  Exertion of external pressure 
>in favour
>of the masses is never regarded as  interference. This is how it seems to 
>The people of Nepal will not see this  as intervention.
>For example, some political leaders came from India  recently to show
>solidarity with the movement. Gyanendra tried illegally to  detain them at 
>airport, calling it intervention. But more than 99 per cent  of Nepali 
>people did
>not regard that as intervention. They saw it as fraternal  assistance. Of
>course, when Hindu fundamentalists like this Singhal comes to  Nepal, the 
>welcomes him. When they crown him 'King of the Hindus', he  doesn't call it
>interference, but when political leaders come and say there  should be 
>democracy, he
>says this is interference. So the anger of people has  grown against the 
>not India. This is why we feel it is time for India to  abandon the
>two-pillar theory.
>Varadarajan: If tomorrow you were to meet Manmohan  Singh, what would you 
>him to do?
>Prachanda: First, change this two-pillar theory.  The Nepali people are
>trying to end the monarchy and you should end your  relationship with it. 
>release all our comrades who are in prison in  India. We are fighting for
>genuine multiparty democracy but they are imprisoned  there, in Patna, 
>Chennai. If you release them all, a message will go  out. And if you feel 
>Naxalite movement in India is a problem for you, we  feel we are trying to 
>with the problems in Nepal in a new way, so if you  release our comrades 
>we are successful in establishing multiparty democracy  in Nepal, then this
>will be a very big message for the Naxalite movement in  India. In other 
>the ground will be readied for them to think in a new  political way. Words 
>not enough, we need to validate what we are saying by  establishing that
>democracy. Third, once a democratic republic is established in  Nepal, then 
>historical doubts that have existed in the relations between  Nepal and 
>can be ended once and for all. So for all these reasons, you  should 
>support the movement for democracy.
>Varadarajan: In many ways, the United States has  emerged as the king's
>strongest backer. How do you evaluate Washington's role?
>Prachanda: Their role has not been good. After  February 1, India's role 
>been positive - for example the agreement we were  able to reach with the
>political parties, I do not think it is likely that the  Indian authorities 
>nothing about this. But the U.S. role from the beginning  has been negative 
>they are still trying to effect a compromise between the  monarch and the
>political parties against the Maoists. Despite the fact that we  are 
>talking of
>pushing multiparty democracy, the U.S. has decided our movement  and 
>has to be crushed. So they have a negative role.
>Varadarajan: What is the American interest in being  soft on the king?
>Prachanda: It is not that they are afraid of what  might happen in Nepal.
>Rather, their strategy is against the Indian and Chinese  masses and also, 
>think, against the Indian and Chinese authorities. The U.S.  has a grand 
>and Bush is talking of China and India as big economic  powers and even as
>threats. Perhaps they see Nepal as a country that is between  these two
>countries and believe that if the situation here does not give rise to  
>forces which
>are in step with themselves, then there could be a problem. So the  U.S. is
>looking at Nepal from the strategic point of view. It is not that they  
>have any
>economic interest here. Political control is the key, so they want to
>strengthen the king.
>Varadarajan: What about the attitude of China? Some  people in India argue
>that if India continues to take a tough stand against the  king, he will 
>turn to
>China for help and Beijing will benefit.
>Prachanda: Earlier, we had a doubt, that perhaps  China might be behind the
>king, that China would try and take advantage. But  then we analysed the
>situation and came to the conclusion that China would not  play this role. 
>relations with India are improving and China will not  want to jeopardise 
>a big interest by backing the Nepal king. And in the  end, I think our
>analysis has been proved correct. Recently, when the Indian  Foreign 
>Secretary, Shyam
>Saran, went to Beijing, he had talks, and a few days  later, for the first
>time, the Chinese authorities issued a statement that they  are worried 
>the situation inside Nepal and that it needs a careful  resolution. Until 
>Beijing had always maintained that what was happening  inside Nepal was an
>internal problem. Today, China has no interest in  antagonising India to 
>build a
>relationship with the king. This is our analysis.  And it looks like India 
>China could have a common approach towards Nepal.  Certainly, a common
>approach is needed. If China and India do not work together,  there will be 
>a big
>problem not only for now but the future. So they need to  have an 
>in favour of democracy, in favour of the people of Nepal.  As far as U.S.
>interests are concerned, they are neither in favour of Indian or  Chinese 
>So at the political level, all of us must come together to  counter them, 
>should not fall under their trap.
>Varadarajan: How do you explain for the contradictory  nature of some of 
>Ambassador Moriarty's statements? Last year, he did use  tough language
>against the king in his speech to the Institute of Foreign  Affairs.
>Prachanda: The U.S. from the start believes the  Maoists are a more 
>threat than the king. Even in the most recent  statement from the State
>Department, they said the king should immediately open  talks with the 
>parties to
>deal with the Maoists. And this is the product of  their vested interest. 
>the Bush administration's intentions were good, there  is no reason to 
>regard us
>as a threat. If its intention is in favour of  democracy and solving 
>political problems, then there is no reason to see  us as a threat 
>when we are saying we are for multiparty democracy and  are willing to 
>the verdict of a constituent assembly.
>We are glad  with the new situation that is emerging after Shyam Saran went
>to China, it  seems the situation can change. Our movement is also going
>forward and I think  in 2-3 months, if the struggle continues, then there 
>is a real
>chance of ending  the kingship once and for all and making a democratic
>republic in Nepal. This is  the best outcome for China and India, and 
>everyone else.
>The U.S. does not want  this. They want to maintain the monarchy at all
>Moriarty consistently  has been speaking against the Maoists. He is 
>to the Asia-Pacific  military command of the U.S. He is not a political 
>And we know that  although his views are different from some in the U.S.
>establishment like, say,  Senator Leahy, but overall, the position of the 
>authorities is not in  favour of democracy and Nepal people.
>Leadership question and inner party  life
>Varadarajan: Has your party put behind it the  differences which emerged 
>year between yourself and Baburam Bhattarai?
>Prachanda: There was a problem and we solved it so  well that the unity in
>our party is stronger than ever before. Our problems were  not of the kind 
>media wrote about. We had an ideological debate about how to  evaluate the 
>century. Why did the communist movement suffer such an  enormous setback? 
>did the Russian revolution get overcome by  counter-revolution? Why did 
>also go down that path? This was a debate  within the central committee for
>many years. There were other problems linked to  shades of opinion within 
>party - like the Madi blast - but the purpose was  to sort out our future 
>This was the purpose of the debate. But the timing  was such that these
>things happened after February 1. If the timing had not been  so bad, there
>wouldn't have been that much propaganda. But the time the king  took over 
>was also
>the time the debate in our party sharpened.
>Varadarajan: The question was raised of a cult of  personality in the 
>As you know, any objective evaluation of the  experience of the 20th 
>communist movement has to consider the cult of  personality as certainly 
>one of
>the factors in the reversals.
>Prachanda: That is correct. But I want to clarify  one thing. Between Dr.
>Bhattarai and me, there was never any debate on the issue  of leadership. 
>He has
>never challenged my leadership. On the issue of leadership  personally, 
>has never been a difference. There were differences on  ideological 
>about what we should do now, and there was a debate. And  this debate we
>solved in the Rolpa plenum in August. We took it to a higher  level and our 
>has become stronger.
>On the issue of leadership I want  to say that our party will be the first
>communist party in the 21st century  which has picked up on a clue from the 
>century - where it had got stuck -  and we are going to open it. At our
>plenum, we placed a resolution on the  question of political power and 
>That when we go for state power and  are in power, then we will not do what
>Stalin or Mao did. Lenin did not have  time to deal with issues of power.
>Although Stalin was a revolutionary, his  approach, was not as scientific 
>as it
>should have been, it was a little  metaphysical, and then problems came. We 
>evaluated Mao in the plenum. If  you look at his leadership from 1935 to 
>1976 -
>from when he was young to when he  was old and even speaking was difficult 
>must he remain Chairman and handle  everything? What is this? So we decided
>that when we are in power, the whole  team of our leadership will not be 
>part of
>day-to-day power. Not just me but our  team. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Badal,
>Mohra, others, we have a leadership team  which arose from the midst of the
>struggle. When we go to Kathmandu, we will not  be involved in power 
>struggles or
>day-to-day power. That will be for the new  generation, and we will train 
>generation. This is a more scientific  approach to the question of
>leadership. If we don't do this, then we will have a  situation where as 
>long as Stalin
>is alive, revolution is alive, as long as Mao  is alive, revolution is 
>This will be a big sacrifice for our  leadership. Of course it does not 
>we will be inactive or retire from  politics. Our leadership team will go 
>statesmanship. We are hoping that by  doing this we will solve a very big
>ideological problem of the communist  movement. This is not only a 
>question but a big ideological question.  There can be no question of
>concentrating power in the hands of any individual  or group. When we 
>placed this
>resolution before the plenum, then our entire  leadership team gained 
>confidence in
>themselves, the movement and the line. Our  unity has become much stronger. 
>we are in an offensive mood.
>We feel we  have contributed to the ideological development of
>Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.  Traditionally, in the international communist 
>movement there are
>two types of  revisionism - right revisionism of class collaboration, and 
>other,  dogmato-revisionism, of turning certain ideas into a dogma and 
>stuck to  them. This is more among the Maoists. Those who call themselves
>Maoists are more  prone to dogmato-revisionism, and we have to fight 
>against this
>Varadarajan: To what extent do you think the logic of  your line on
>multiparty democracy applies also to the Maoist movements in India?
>Prachanda: We believe it applies to them too. We  want to debate this. They
>have to understand this and go down this route. Both  on the questions of
>leadership and on multiparty democracy, or rather multiparty  competition, 
>who call themselves revolutionaries in India need to think  about these 
>And there is a need to go in the direction of that practice.  We wish to
>debate with them on this. If revolutionaries are not going to look at  the 
>need for
>ideological development, then they will not go anywhere.
>Varadarajan: The Indian police agencies say you are  providing weapons and
>training to the Indian Maoists but here you are saying  they should go in 
>multiparty competition.
>Prachanda: There is no question of us giving  anything. They blame us for
>Madhubani, Jehanabad, but we have no relationship of  this kind with them.
>Varadarajan: What is your evaluation of the recent  political developments 
>Latin America - with what is happening in Venezuela  with the Bolivarian
>movement, in Chile, Bolivia?
>Prachanda: We feel there is a new wave of  revolution on the horizon. The
>first wave began with the Russian revolution and  ended with the Cultural
>Revolution but now it looks like the second wave could  be starting. 
>Dogmatism and
>ideological stagnation is evident in the U.S. Bush is  in league with 
>fundamentalists. Throughout Latin America there is  resentment and hatred
>against imperialism, from Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and  Chile, and an 
>can come at any time. The encirclement of America has  begun. But I also
>believe this explosion can start from South Asia. Nepal and  India have a 
>big role
>to play. The U.S. will not be able to control things. And  the developments 
>Latin America are a good augury.
>Varadarajan: In conclusion, tell us a little about  yourself. How old are 
>now? When did you join the movement? Where did you  study?
>Prachanda: I am 52 and have been in the movement  full time for the past 34
>years. I drew close to communism when I was 16, as a  student in high 
>and became a whole-timer when I was 28. I did a B.Sc. at  the Chitwan
>agriculture university and was studying for a Masters in Public  
>Administration when
>there was a big movement around the time of the referendum  Birendra was
>organising. That is when I joined the movement, and couldn't  complete my 
>Since then I have been active, most of the time underground.
>Varadarajan: And family life? Are you married?
>Prachanda: Yes. My family, of course, is also in  the movement.
>Varadarajan: Thank you very much for this interview.
>Prachanda: Thank  you.