Daman Nath Dhungana
Former Speaker, Nepal ParliamentTGQ1: Is it that the political parties have failed or their pushed agenda? Could you tell us that the taking up of the weapons by the Maoists, made the King’s ambitions to grow manifold?
Dhungana: Political parties do not fail.
However, what happens is that as and when such situation arises, the people either reject the parties or its representatives or elect a new one. The people form a new party keeping into proper account the emerging new program of actions and of the country’s needs. But if you talk of the issues that our parties raised and if one takes into account their overall performances as of now then what can be safely said is that the political parties, albeit the present day ones, have definitely failed in their duties as promised to the people. Because this journey right began with the signing of the 12 point agreement. The crux of the 12 point agreement lay in that the Maoists took up the arms against the democratic order which ushered in 1990. The weapons have had to be discharged somewhere. At a time when the NC and the UML were not interested in having a dialogue with the Maoists, we from the Civil Society were working to bring in the Maoists to the negotiating table because the Maoists were targeting the new democracy which had just entered in the country. The King became over ambitious only because the Maoists took up the arms. On the other hand, the Nepali Congress and the UML too could not live up to the expectations and aspirations of the people after the 1990 political change. The NC and the UML tentatively copied the same bad habits during their rule which the erstwhile regime-Panchayat had in its system prevailing then. The people by then had become quite conscious though the NC and the Communist had done great jobs during the tough time of the Panchayat. But yet with such a contribution in the background, the NC and the UML could do little to live up to the people’s expectations. It was here that the Maoists wished to cash in upon from the NC and the UML’s weaknesses. The King also preferred to extract political benefits when he observed that the political parties had become pretty weak. Because of this “mix”, we landed in the 12 point agreement.
The 12 point agreement was the need of the hour. Had it not been under the aegis of the Indian regime, some others would have emerged. So in one way, the Indian initiative was not that bad. We should take the New Delhi sponsored 12 point agreement at par with the one which the Delhi mediated in 1950. India entered into Nepali politics second time after 1950 with this 12 point agreement. I have taken the 12 point agreement as the same link of the Indian chain which began in 1950s.
TGQ2: So can it be said that the delay in the management of the Maoists’ weapons is what has been distancing the constitution drafting processes?
Dhungana: Let’s take it that way as it may be a premature conclusion. As I stated earlier, the 12 point agreement was important and even I said that it is the link of the same chain, however, we could not extract benefits out of the 12 point agreement for our national advantages. Because we have had to shorten the transitional phase after the country was declared a republican state by mingling with the people, and also at the political parties’ level, the leaders should have worked in tandem exhibiting long lasting unity amongst them too remained absent visibly. An ideal relation should have been in place among the political parties which unfortunately remained missing. One should now ask as to how the parliamentary parties could join their neck with the ones which raised always the issue of People’s Republic. Why these two differing poles could forge unity? Without having the logical answer to this Himalayan question at the very outset, we just entered into the transitional period.
I have kept India at the center. This matter is best understood by the Indian side only. The result which came before us was that, firstly, Maoists will submit their weapons and then will be a part of the peace process; bring in the transitional period and later by sidelining the Nepali monarchy, republican order would be pushed in. These two facts have now become pretty visible. In addition, what have also been now observed that the constitution would not be brought out of the functioning Constituent Assembly or else why should we have such a Himalayan size CA body? The top class and noted experts should have been inside the CA body. The CA body should have become like an all trustworthy entity to which it is not at the moment. Why in the name of proportional representation, the body was made some sort of a recruitment center? At best, we could have brought in some sharp brains using the proportional system of representation. That’s why, I would now say that such a situation has come neither with the brain of the NC, the UML nor those of the Maoists. It is not the design of these parties. Girija Prasad Koirala agreed up to the signing of the 12 point agreement because the reasons were that he have had tussle with the King then. As of the Maoists, they accepted the said 12 point agreement because they had to discharge their weapons. For India, by then the Nepal Maoists had become an albatross for the entire regime. The Nepalese Maoists had already become a source for the swelling in of the Indian Maoists back in their own territory.
On the other hand, the Indian regime had the compulsion to bring in the Maoists in close association with Girija Prasad Koirala in order to challenge the King then.
Now what appears to me is that the prolongation of the transitional phase is not for drafting the constitution at all instead this is in prevalence, or it was, just to push the republican order by dismantling of the Nepali monarchy. This is what is being felt. At least as I see to it. There is no agenda as such with regard to the strengthening of democratic order and for the development of the country. Five years have already been spent. It has already been wasted as against no gains. What have been done in these years, there is no reason as to why such peripheral issues consumed so many years?
TGQ3: Should we conclude that the 12 point designers themselves have failed? Or should we take that the 12 point designer failed or have the parties failed? Also tell us as what political gains did India bag? Your comments please.
Dhungana: No! It is not that. Nothing for the said designer. We have had to seek their support and assistance. For example, had it not been the entrance of the Indian regime in the 12 point agreement, the Maoists would not have institutionalized. We needed then a guarantor. India acted like a party-KARTA (main actor) which made the entire affair possible. Somehow or the other we needed an actor to play as say, mediator. One mediator was needed which could be trusted upon both by the Maoists and the NC, UML. There was nothing later for India to panic. The conflict had to be borne out by the Nepalese themselves. But we could not make it an affair for us the Nepalese and the society.
I wouldn’t say that the “designer” has failed. Albeit, they –read India-extracted as much gains they wished. The whole affair made no damage to the Indian side. At best, we the Nepalese could not exploit the would-be gains. India has lost nothing as such.
The Maoists understand it better. The party knows well that it can’t afford to fight with the Indian regime and can’t remain in existence if it dares to do so. The NC and the UML have adopted a policy on how to expand and better its relations with the Indian side. Much more than the NC-UML combine race, the Prime Minister and Chairman Dahal are extremely eager in developing their relations with the Indian regime. It is our national necessity that any political party/parties would wish to enhance its relations with India. For India it is a matter of gain that the Maoists have come to this stage-the party which had created bunkers against India. More or less, most of the Nepali political parties are close to India and at times they prefer to compete with each other in having close proximity with the Indian side. The loss is solely for us only.
TGQ4: Look! Neither the peace process proceeds towards its successful completion nor the constitution could be drafted. In this situation where the country could head? Your comments please.
Dhungana: Whatever jobs are left to accomplish as regards the evacuation of the Maoists militias from the cantonments and the jobs pertaining to the draft of the constitution must come to an end ahead of April 27, 2012. It must come to a “close” by then. The rest of the one month left should be allocated to manage the new interim period. It should be exploited as an opportunity. We should make the “closing date” April 27, 2012 but not May 27, 2012. Well within one month that remains with us should be allocated for managing the interim situation that will emerge by then. Let’s take it as a transition period which must be managed well through the present interim constitution itself. If we cannot handover the gains so far achieved along these four years to the forthcoming parliament after holding the elections then everything will shatter down.
TGQ5: Aren’t you today a congress man? What of the Nepali Congress which is associated with Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba?
Dhungana: Well, I am very much a Nepali Congress man. But not the defunct NC of today but instead I am the NC man which has the people’s support. What the NC we have had in the past, neither Sushil nor Deuba have it with them today.
That is a Nepali Congress which has lost its weight among the people. At best today’s NC is of the sort of Panche. The people are in search of that Nepali Congress which took its shape around 1940s and remained in existence until 1950s under Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. The people still long for that particular NC. Today’s leaders do not represent the previous congress as mentioned earlier. Congress is a party which carries with it the tradition of the martyrs. We had made Tanka Prasad Acharya the NC President at its very inception. That legacy has come to an end after the demise of Girija Prasad Koirala. What you see today, is nothing but an organization but not the Nepali Congress. It is just a technical organization. I spent my full life for the congress but the present one is not my Nepali Congress. I am in search of a Nepali Congress which resembled the previous one and for that I am in constant touch with today’s youths.
Text courtesy: Ghatana Ra Bichar dated March 14, 2012. Unofficial translation. Thanks.