‘My views reflect the party policy’
- Baburam Bhattarai
Mar 6, 2015-
Former PM and UCPN (Maoist) leader Baburam Bhattarai had never courted such criticism as he has of late. It all stemmed from the remark he made at an interaction in New Delhi recently. During the session attended by former ambassadors and representatives from India’s think tanks, Bhattarai said India’s role was crucial in Nepal’s peace process and its prosperity. The rebel leader-turned mainstream politician and an avid social media user faces a litany of criticism both online and on political platform. He has defended his statement saying it was based on his party’s line. Post correspondent Devendra Bhattarai caught up with him in the Indian Capital. Excerpts:
The appeal for India’s help coming from you, a senior leader of the party that once advocated tunnel warfare against India, has caused quite a commotion back home. What are your thoughts?
I am not at all perturbed by what others say because I act and speak keeping in mind the ultimate welfare of the people and the state. Being a neighbour of Nepal, the Indian government, political parties, their leaders and civil society have deep concerns about the current scenario in Nepal. I only explained to them what Nepal was going through at present in a transparent manner. I was here to talk about our peace process which is the issue of international concern. I was simply saying that the neighbouring nations of Nepal have an important role to play in its peace process.
How do you respond to the criticisms you are facing from various quarters?
Actually, the ruling class and traditional forces in Nepal are not pleased with my India visit and me meeting with the political leaders and civil society here because they used to think that they had monopoly in foreign diplomacy. They are upset to see the Maoist party, leader, a force that represents the suppressed class, expanding its relations outside the country. We are trying to develop new political culture in Nepal which the traditional forces are having difficulty to stomach.
The way you sought the Indian help and its active role in ending the political deadlock in Nepal, was that your personal view or the party’s?
It’s the party’s line for sure. I am having phone conversation with the chairman twice a day. Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is happy with my meeting and agendas that I raised here. The request for the help and coordination is our party’s line, and I ask you to understand in the same way.
What is the message of Delhi regarding recent contention over peace process in Nepal?
Everyone I met wishes for the peace process in Nepal to conclude soon. They wish to see Nepal promulgate a new constitution based on consensus among all the parties. They are worried by the political deadlock.
As a party to various agreements that initiated the peace process in Nepal, could you reveal the agreement that was reached with former king Gyanendra Shah?
As far as I know, there was no agreement with the former king from our side. I cannot even imagine an agreement taking place to give space to monarchy. There is no possibility of reinstatement of monarchy of any form, and I don’t believe anyone had made such an agreement.
If there were agreements regarding the state of his business, social works or any family matters, the agreeing party should know that.
Other than that, I am certain that there was no political agreement with the former king. It’s worthless to run after what he says.
During your tenure as a prime minister, your government had suggested developing Nepal as a bridge between India and China. Is that discourse still relevant?
The discussion is still on. But since our present priority is conclusion of the peace process, all of us are focused on it. In fact, I did broach the topic during my meeting with the policy makers here. But while we are discussing this topic, we should never harbour the thought that only Nepal can become that bridge. There are other countries that share borders with India and China. But since Nepal itself is a traditional gateway for Chinese traders and lies in large Ganga Basin of India, it has the strategic importance.
How do you think the peace process will go ahead in the days to come? What are your expectations?
As a Chairman of Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee, I always wanted the constitution to be drafted based on consensus. The act of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to start majority process in the Constituent Assembly by going against the past agreements invited the problem we are facing right now.
As a result, we launched a mass rally against it.
Now, both the national and the international forces want to see Nepal concluding its peace process and drafting constitution through consensus, and the voice for consensus is growing stronger even within the Congress and the UML. I see the possibility of fresh round of dialogue between the parties.
Published: 07-03-2015 08:05