Polls are ploy to Sikkimize Nepal
CPN-Maoist is all set to launch the second round of its nationwide protests against the government’s ‘unilateral’ decision to hold Constituent Assembly elections on November 19. The party has ruled out dialogue unless their demands, including the resignation of the CJ-led government, are met. Is it still possible for CPN-Maoist to find common ground with the Big Four and the Regmi government on CA polls? How will it respond if its demands are not met? What will be the nature of its protests? Mahabir Paudyal and Kiran Pun talked to the outspoken CPN-Maoist Party Secretary Dev Gurung to find out.
Your party seems determined to disrupt upcoming polls. Is that the right perception?
Election is not the right solution to the problems the country faces today. Look at what happened in Sikkim. Election there cost the territory its sovereignty. The same thing happened in Fiji. Let there be no doubt: The proposed election is not meant to give a new constitution. If the parties really wanted to make one, they would have done so through the old CA. The problem is not absence of election, but the deeply rooted rastriya atmasamarpanbad (‘national capitulation’) among the top leaders of four parties.
This was the reason the CA was dissolved last May. There is no guarantee that a new CA will be able to draft a statute. But if we must go to polls, the four parties must answer some tough questions. Why did Baburam Bhattarai arbitrarily dissolve the CA? And what is the guarantee the new PM elected after CA polls won’t do the same if he sees that the new constitution is not going to serve his interest? About 90 percent of work had been completed in the last CA, only a few contentious issues remained, which could have been easily settled through voting. What stopped the constitution then?
CPN-Maoist has been raising the bogey of Sikkimization for quiet sometime now. What is the basis of your suspicion?
Isn’t it obvious? Article 21 of the 25-point constitution amendment proposal has provisioned for citizenship distribution by descent, even for temporary residents of foreign origin living along the border. We share a porous border with India. Citizenship is the only means to distinguish Nepalis from foreigners there. But the current citizenship distribution system has allowed even foreigners to get citizenships on the eve of election. In time, foreigners will become dominant, and real Nepalis will be pushed into a minority.
Events over the last two years suggest that we are indeed on the way to being Sikkimized. The CA was dissolved, and with it, the legislative and executive were rendered dysfunctional. PM Bhattarai’s declaration on May 27 and President’s 25-point amendment on March 14 killed the sole functional state institution, the judiciary, and sabotaged the interim constitution. Foreign forces are conspiring to turn Nepal into another Sikkim and, if that is not possible, into another Bhutan.The election is a part of the same design.
Only a couple of days ago your party chairman said that the party could participate in the polls if they were deferred from November 19.
We wanted to give four parties enough time to correct their wrongs. Let us first forge broad consensus, resolve the citizenship issue, and bring politics back into our own hands. We can even make a political declaration of consensus. If it takes a few more months to settle these issues, let it be so. Election can wait.
Many partners in your 42-party alliance support election. Unlike CPN-Maoist, no other party is asking that the government resigns. Doesn’t it sometimes feel like a lost cause?
It is not a question of how many supporters we have. We may have a few things in common with the 41 other parties, but we are fighting for a completely different agenda. We are fighting for no less than national sovereignty and independence.
What are minimum criteria for your participation in the polls?
The problem is neither the government nor the four parties are interested in settling disputes through negotiation. If they were, they would halt election process and we would put our protest programs on hold. But the four parties and government are forging ahead, updating voter roll, announcing poll date and enacting electoral laws without taking us into confidence. They have taken us to the point of no return. They have left us no room to participate in the polls.
What is the solution then?
Though the government and four parties have excluded us and moved ahead arbitrarily, we have not yet closed the door for negotiation. We are still ready to sit down and find a solution. But we will also simultaneously take to the streets. We are ready to come to the negotiating table if the parties agree on two things: Restoring interim constitution to its former shape, and seeking negotiated settlement from among the political parties. For the former, both Bhattarai’s May 27 declaration and the President’s 25-point amendment need to be immediately annulled.
Are you suggesting that the dissolved CA be revived?
The CA need not be revived. Baburam’s declaration made 18 articles of interim constitution defunct and the 25-point amendment rendered it completely dysfunctional. Once these two decisions are taken back, we will have a functioning legislature parliament in place, from where we can settle all contentious issues in a matter of days.
But isn’t election intended to bring a new legislature parliament as well?
Like I said, the problem is not the election. If one person is ill, you can’t cure him by treating another person. The root cause of our problems is the tendency of our political leaders to capitulate before foreigners. If they stand united on national issues, foreign powers will be helpless. If the parties agree to restore the country’s political rights, we are ready to compromise on anything.
How can this be done?
The Big Four need to correct past mistakes. The parties are staging the farce of election without getting the basics right. Their first mistake was to hold the CA hostage for four years and then to dissolve it. The four parties should not have supported Bhattarai’s unconstitutional move of dissolving the CA and legislature parliament. The President’s 25-point amendment order killed the spirit of interim constitution. Then they appointed Chief Justice as the PM.All this has happened under the direct order of foreign powers. These need to be corrected.
Most people would say that what you are proposing is impossible.
If our demands are not heard, we will have no option but to launch a movement for national sovereignty and national liberation. We will lead the revolution against this national capitulation. We fought for republic to transfer power from Narayanhiti to Singha Durbar. But top leaders of the four parties have transferred that power to Lainchaur (Indian Embassy). Neither Singha Durbar nor Sheetal Niwas enjoys any political power. The very existence of the country is at stake.
But your party seems isolated. You have no support to speak of from any sector.
We do not need any support from those who compromise on national sovereignty. But we have the best wishes of those who support nationalism and national sovereignty. We have taken up a just cause. There is no reason to back down.
What will be your focus on the Central Committee meeting slated for June 29?
Our meeting will be focused on how to save the nation from the hands of the compradors. The proposed election is a kind of tamasuk (written agreement) to sell out the country. How can we put our signature in such an antinational and treacherous document? We will not allow Big Four to sell the country. Our CC meeting will focus on these issues.
The rumor of party unity surfaces time and again. Prachanda is said to have sent you a unity proposal in writing last Saturday.
This is only a rumor. Parties get unified on the basis of ideology. Currently the two parties’ stands on several vital ideological issues are polar opposites. There is no possibility of unity. Why this rumor then? This is because UCPN (Maoist) wants to defame us. It wants to spread the illusion of unity among people so that it can garner support from our cadres during the polls. It is also doing so to scare Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. Clearly, Prachanda and Baburam are intent on excluding us from the election process. They have been trying to woo only Asho Rai and Upendra Yadav. However, NC and UML insist that we be brought on board. UCPN (Maoist) is trying to thwart their attempt by concocting the narrative of unity.
CPN-Maoist captures 135 bighas land in Mahottari
MAHOTTARI: The CPN-Maoist has captured 135 bighas of land at Phoolkaha VDC of Mahottari district on Wednesday. The cadres of the CPN-Maoist captured 135 bighas of land including that of Basanta Shrestha, Naresh Shrestha and Jagannath Singh. Before this, the then CPN-Maoist had captured the land in 2055 BS during conflict period and had also returned in 2065 BS. CPN-Maoist Mahottari said that the land was captured to settle landless farmers as they have been using the land for years even if owned by the three persons.
Assistant Coordinator of Mithila Bureau of the All Nepal farmers’ Association of the Party, Apsara Baral, said that landless squatters are being settled on the land captured by erecting a party flag. The party has also captured around 100 bighas of land in Bhangaha, Hariharpur Harinmari and Banauta VDCs since 2055 BS. Meanwhile, human rights activists and lawyers have blamed that the party has been trying to terrify locals by capturing private property.