Dr. Prakash Saran Mahat
NC leader, Nepal
TGQ1: The talks of militia integration has stuck despite having several dialogue and debates over the issue. Is it that the process of integration is at its breaking point? Is it that the integration process of the army has come to a grinding halt because of the Maoists?
Dr. Mahat: It has become more than urgent and necessary that the integration process has to be completed after making a decision as regards the ranking of the militias to be integrated. Although the Maoists appear reluctant in settling the issue of late but the party as such can’t escape from the settling process. The Maoists have to abide by the November 1, 2011, agreement verbatim and thus can’t dare to ignore the said agreement. This issue has got to be settled at the earliest. The fact is also that if the Maoists ignore this issue then there could be no easy escape for the Maoists to completely sideline the rank settlement issue. If the Maoists consider that the party will benefit from such dilly-dallying process then the party is not only mistaken but it would be impossible for the party to abandon the issue in the lurch. The party has to decide the rank settlement issue.
As regards the associated question, what I can say is that there should be no doubt in this regard. When it had been agreed that some six thousand five hundred militias would be integrated upon meeting the set standards, now they are forwarding a new proposal that their militias need the post of a Brigadier general. This demand is just to dilly-dally the entire process. But they have been. What standard are being set by the national army, the party have to remain content with that ranking. We can’t go beyond these set standards. It is not that we have made some more additions instead it is this agreement contained therein the seven point agreement to which the Maoists are also a signatory. Things mush move ahead as per the seven point agreement.
TGQ2: Why is the present tussle when it has been agreed upon that Maoists militias would be integrated into the mainstream army? Why the wrangling in the peripheral talks such as that of the ranking in the army after integration?
Dr. Mahat: I believe that the idea is to elevate the ranks of those top echelon Maoists leaders who were devoted towards the party while integrating the army. They wish to push their men in the top posts of the Army after integration. If they succeed in their mission, then the idea is to play politics after being inside the Army institution. This could have been their internal desire to influence the national Army. It could have been this particular reason for pushing the agenda of elevated rank demand by the Maoists. If the Maoists are really honest towards nationalism and national interests then the party should refrain from making such absurd demands because the need of the hour is to move ahead forging consensus and joint efforts. It is time to complete the peace process but not the time to remain bogged down in endless debates. Such as the fresh one that has come from the Maoist quarters. It is time to draft the constitution but not for bringing fresh awkward proposals.
TGQ3: At a time when the Nepal Army itself has been exhibiting positive overtures over the integration process then is it not that the present day tussle among the parties observed as regards the army integration course a ploy to foil the entire prospects of militia integration? How you take to this view Dr. Mahat?
Dr. Mahat: The Nepali Congress is of the view that the constitution must be drafted on time immediately upon the completion of the integration process. This is our structured stand. We have been pressing the Maoists hard to abide by the seven point agreement to which the party is also a signatory. We have been telling them to implement those which has been agreed upon and incorporated in the said seven point agreement. Decisions need the consent of the political parties which later has to be implemented by the Special Committee formed for the integration. Had we disobeyed the decisions of the Special Committee and ignored the provisions contained in the seven point agreement then one could hurl blames onto the heads of the Nepali Congress. But on the contrary, we have remained ever responsible. The problems have newly surfaced only because the Maoists have been pushing fresh proposals and making afresh demands. They even appear reluctant in convening the Special Committee meet when this issue is of prime significance and a sensible one as well. The party is reluctant in even convening the meet. We at time even fear that why the Maoists have been reluctant in abiding by those agreements to which they were themselves a signatory? Why the Maoists party doesn’t come forward to bring into implementation those agreements which it has also Okayed? We suspect at time whether they were doing so in order to foil the entire efforts initiated as regards the Army-Militia integration process? The questions that we have raised possess some valid logic.
TGQ4: The Maoists leaders have been saying that unless their party militias were awarded with the rank of a Brigadier general, the integration process can’s move ahead. Should this mean that the integration process has been dumped for good?
Dr. Mahat: I wonder why they agree at one point and express their opposing reservations on the other? For instance, only a few weeks back, they passed a decision from the Cabinet and recognized the people’s government that they had formed during the people’s war. They are bringing up new things instead of dismantling the Young Communist League para-military structure and also of the return of the seized properties. The Maoists at best have been doing their jobs by ignoring their own past made commitments and agreements and diverting the attention of the general mass by keeping them all in delusion. The fresh utterances and statements being made by the Maoists leaders is a part of the same design. This is what I presume. They have yet not abandoned their past habit of taking the people for a ride, to keep in an illusion and also to befool the people. These utterances and statements could be taken as a symbolic gesture of the Maoist’s inner mindset.
TGQ5: Do you think that a fresh time schedule will be in place for the draft of the new constitution? So many things remain unsettled. Time is running out. You haven’t consulted the population then how can you bring the new constitution without having consultations with the people?
Dr. Mahat: I don’t see the possibility of the CA term extension. It is not good and doesn’t look nice to extend CA tenure every now and then. Mind it, the Supreme Court too has already made a verdict in this regard. We must try in the mean time and I think if the Maoists forge consensus amongst them as regards the peace process, the constitution can well be drafted. The constitution can be drafted if we agree and forge some sort of consensus on main and special features of the constitution even if some contentious issue remains. If there is strong will and devotion, I think the new constitution could be written within the remaining period.
The constitution will not be written without having prior consultations with the population. Rest assured. Though differing opinions have cropped up yet we must forge consensus on some of the basic issues. We can move ahead upon what we agree in consensus. If it becomes impossible then we have no alternative other than to go to the people and embrace fresh people’s mandate.
Text Courtesy: The Bimarsha Weekly. Thanks: Ed.