Following President Ram Baran Yadav’s fifth extension of consensus deadline, Chairman of the breakaway Maoist party, CPN-Maoist, Mohan Baidya, seems indifferent to hectic parleys between four major forces. He believes the ongoing talks are unlikely to lead to lasting solutions without inclusion of all political forces. Kiran Pun and Biswas Baral tried to find out more about the veteran Maoist leader’s displeasure with the ongoing process.
How do you evaluate the President’s initiative for consensus among political parties?
As the head of the state and as the protector of the interim constitution, the President’s initiative for a breakthrough must be taken positively. But what has been happening is that instead of all the political parties sitting down to find a breakthrough, only the so-called major forces have been sitting for talks. This is not a positive development.
PHOTO: KIRAN PUN
You believe there has been no effort to take your party into confidence?
Not just our party, I mean there should have been talks among all the big and small parties. The President should have consulted all the forces before making any move, rather than trying to take just three or four parties into confidence. Thus while we appreciate the President’s initiative to find consensus, we believe his effort has fallen short.
If there is an agreement between these three or four forces, will it be acceptable to you?
I believe current political discussions have been by and large focused on who will become the new prime minister rather than trying to find solutions to the country’s problems by discussing specific agendas. Whether or not we will accept the agreement depends on its nature. But it is true that we have not been included in discussions.
Haven’t you been involved in discussions with other parties to get the backing for CPN-Maoist PM candidate Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’?
There had been a round of discussions with various party leaders, but of late there has been no discussion on this front. We would be able to put forth our views strongly if there was a broad multiparty platform, which is lacking at present.
If there is a breakthrough between major parties and CPN-Maoist is then asked to join the new government, will the party join?
Now the situation is such that the same forces that were responsible for the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly say that they can both provide a breakthrough as well as lead the country into next election. First, there has to be an assessment of what went wrong: what was it that led to the dissolution of the old CA? Second, given that we have been hearing various party leaders say that old agreements should be abandoned since we are going to elect a new CA, it has to be clear what will happen to old agreements. Even the nature of upcoming election remains unclear. Only when there are discussions on these issues will the way forward be clear.
Some of the top CPN-Maoist leaders have been saying that they will boycott polls if they are held without taking the party into confidence.
Yes, there is no question of taking part in an election decided without taking us into confidence. We won’t accept any agreement limited to three or four parties.
What is the current political roadmap of CPN-Maoist?
The final roadmap will come into shape during our general convention in January. It is very hard to say what our strategy will be in the current state of confusion in the country, when the prospect of new CA polls hangs in the balance and the country’s future course seems unclear.
Has there been any effort from the ruling coalition or opposition parties to reach out to you?
No, there has been no formal approach from the ruling coalition. We have held a round of conversation with CPN-UML leaders, but by and large, we have been left out of current negotiations.
Has the President made the effort?
We have been in touch with the President. Since the President has been making an effort for a breakthrough through Article 38 (1) of the interim constitution, we have also been discussing what will happen if this course fails. I believe the President should try to establish consensus among all political parties. His efforts so far have not proven enough.
How do you interpret the rift that seems to be appearing between PM Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal over government change?
Looking at news reports, it appears that there are differences between Bhattarai and Dahal on formation of consensus government. I don’t think there are significant ideological differences between the two, even while they might have differences over specific issues.
The two Maoist parties are scheduled to hold their general conventions in the near future. How will the two general conventions be different?
One, UCPN (Maoist) has been saying that there is no need for ‘new people’s revolution’ in the changed context, while we are firmly in favor of it. Two, we will emphasize the issue of national sovereignty in our general convention, while the other party is unlikely to give this issue much importance. Besides these, the other party has decided to move ahead with the agenda of ‘federal democratic republic’ while we will continue to empathize ‘people’s federal republic’. On the political front, we believe UCPN (Maoist) made grave mistakes and contributed to CA’s failure, while they are not ready to admit to any such mistake. These might be some points of differences.
UCPN (Maoist) leaders have been saying that since you have not been able to justify splitting the party, the chances of reunion are high. Is that the case?
The rationale for the split in the Maoist party is amply clear in party documents and in the behavior of UCPN (Maoist) leaders. So far as the issue of unity is concerned, there is no such possibility at the moment. What we have been saying is that they should accept their past mistakes and take up the agendas they have left behind. Until this happens, there is no prospect of unity.