INTERVIEW

NC, Maoists should remain key partners until the peace process is complete

  • Interview Bimalendra Nidhi

Oct 16, 2017-In the wake of the announcement of the leftist electoral alliance between CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-UML and Naya Shakti Party Nepal, Nepali Congress (NC) scrambled to put together an opposing Democratic electoral alliance. Bimalendra Nidhi, a central committee of member of NC and a key member involved in creating the NC-Maoist Centre ruling coalition, calls the new alliance “a communist alliance,” and not a left alliance. Nidhi, the former home minister, tells Mukul Humagain and Anil Giri that he has never seen a single successful communist get-together in Nepal.

 

How has the NC received the leftist alliance? Haven’t you been a bit too reactive, rather than proactive?

First of all, I’d like to start by saying that the media’s use of the word ‘leftist’ to describe this alliance is wrong. This is a communist alliance. In Nepal, the words ‘leftist’ and ‘left’ is used to describe something else rather than its traditional usage. Parties, including the NC, also have leftist forces within its ranks. Moreover, even religious groups can have leftist adherents. Therefore, leftist and communist aren’t synonymous words and can’t be treated as such. 

The publicised target of the alliance is to create one communist force. The current national political need is to attempt to enhance and sustain the current federal democratic republican constitution, and this recent alliance does not seem to be focused on that. If the focus of the alliance is to create a single communist party, the writing is clear on the wall that the communist alliance’s main goal is to turn Nepal communist. How can you say NC’s approach is reactive? It’s only natural that we want to counter such an alliance with likeminded democratic forces. 

Put in the broader context, much still needs to be done in the on-going peace process. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is still active. There is a school of thought that the Maoists joining hands with the UML to create a single party will subvert such transitional peace processes. Do you agree?

Yes. In the journey towards peace, the integration of Maoist fighters into the security structure is a great step forward. The forming of the constitution is another huge step. This recent developments, however, can undermine the peace process. Prachanda knows this; he and his party members are directly related with the issues that the TRC and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) are working on.

The most important part of the peace process has yet to be realised: that is the completion of the agenda of the CIDEP and the TRC. If this is incomplete or subverted, we are in for yet another fight. The seeds of another conflict will have been sowed, if the perception that the work of the TRC and CIEDP is incomplete. Prachanda should understand this. 

You have worked closely with Prachanda in the Cabinet. Do you think the new electoral alliance came together to put works of the TRC and CIEDP on a backburner? 

That’s what’s strange about this development. The only way for Prachanda to have issues with the TRC resolved was to stay in alliance with the NC, not with the UML.  I was involved in the process of forming the NC-Maoist coalition, and Prachanda mentioned a few things very clearly. He said that the leading forces behind the peace process in Nepal are NC and Maoists. All other forces are secondary to them. The idea was since the two political forces were key to starting the peace process, the Maoists and NC had to stick together until the peace process was done with. 

Prachanda believed that only a democratic power would be fully accepted and supported by the international community. His reasons behind seeking an alliance with NC were always solid. If we go by his public statements behind recent developments, he perhaps genuinely thinks that he can form one strong communist force in Nepal and become its leader. 

The Maoist-NC alliance had been successful in holding three phases of local polls (the first one under Maoists and the other two under NC). Do you think the Maoists’ poor showing in the polls, and the apparent discord between NC and Maoist Centre on sharing seats during the local elections had anything to do with pushing the Maoists towards UML?

The NC and even PM Deuba had assured the Maoists of providing as many seats as they wanted. We even extended our offer of alliance for the provincial and parliamentary polls. However, I feel that the UML ideology will completely dissolve the Maoist ideology, basically turning the years of struggle the MC went through to create a separate ideology as historically redundant. Then again, I’m confused. Maybe the MC is a Maoist party just in a name. 

The Congress-led alliance hasn’t taken a concrete shape yet. When do you think this will be complete?

Since it is an alliance of parties that believe in pluralistic politics and democracy, it will not take the same shape as the communist alliance has taken. We are already a 6-party alliance, and are in discussions to add more. Things need time. 

 

Two of your six partners, RJPN and SSF, are talking about contesting the elections independently.

See the thing is, out of the 165 constituencies, we cannot have an alliance that encompasses all seats. The alliance can sustain different forms. We can decide with each party where, in what constituencies and in what form we can ally. Some places may have soft alliances, some places may have none. We have not figured it out on a seat-to-seat basis.

Since the Maoists left the ruling coalition, we also have to keep the aim of holding the government together. There was a clear attempt by the opposing forces, talking to the Kamal Thapa-led RPP among others, to show a no-confidence against the government, thereby toppling it. Kamal Thapa has said this himself. We have negated such attempts. When there is an opportunity to strengthen your position using 

alliances with parties that have seats in the Parliament, is it a bad thing? Is it not common-sense politics?

There are speculations that the NC will like to postpone the elections and, now that there is no parliament, the Prime Minister will exercise unbridled authority at the cost of the democratic process and scheduled elections. Is any of this true?

When opposing forces were trying to subvert and topple the current government right before elections, did anyone have the guts to call them out? Let me get this straight, trying to pass a no-confidence motion against the PM and government right before elections is not a violation of the election code of conduct, but adding ministers to sustain the transitional government at such a crucial time is?

What is true is that the PM did discuss the possible shifting of the second election date. He proposed this to the leaders of all parties in an open manner. That’s all there is to it. 

This is the first periodic parliamentary elections held in the country since 1999. The two elections in-between were for writing the constitution. What’s the NC agenda?

Before the communist alliance, the political agenda was to support the constitution—while bringing necessary changes to it so that it becomes the constitution for all Nepalis—and development. Political stability was also on the agenda. Post-communist alliance, however, we have added one more agenda, while still sticking to the other agendas. We believe in a federal, democratic republic and we are against communism. We most certainly do not want a communist republic. 

There has been talk that the recent developments have the fingerprints of a foreign power. Some say that China directly influenced recent developments. What do you think?

As far as the question of Chinese involvement goes, let me first say I have not talked much with Chinese officials. But China has a simple agenda for Nepal: Nepal must 

support the one-China policy, and in return China will not interfere in local politics.

What I do think however is that since  China is ruled by a Communist Party, it means that that they may welcome a communist Nepal. However, I am not convinced that a Communist Nepal will make Nepal stable. But I don’t know whether China has seen the situation from this perspective.

Published: 16-10-2017 08:12

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