On April 2nd i had the opportunity to interview Mr. Suresh Kumar Ale Magar, who is a member of the Constituent Assembly for the UCPN(Maoist). It is an interesting interview- with some very interesting comments about Latin America. There was some minor editing for clarity.
Ben Peterson: Mr Suresh thank you very much for meeting with me.
Suresh Kumar Ale: Thank you, and welcome to Nepal
BP: Thank you very much. So you are a member of the Constituent Assembly...
BP:... and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). How long have you been part of the Maoist movement here?
SKA: The Maoist movement? About 30 years, three decades.
BP: Thats a considerable amount of time. So you were with the party throughout the war period?
SKA: When i joined this movement it was not the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), it was named at that time the CPN(Masal). But later there were many separations, separate factions and then we became the CPN(Maoist). It is now after a reintegration with the CPN(Mashal) and the CPN(Maoist) that the party is now the Unified CPN(Maoist)
BP:And you were elected to the assembly in the First Past the Post system?(1)
BP: From which district?
SKA: From the first past the post not the proportional representation, from constituency number one Tanahun district.
BP: Now there has been allot of talk from the party leadership about leading the revolution from the government, this is very new and a very different tactic that hasn't really been explored by revolutionaries before, and it is a very different tactics to the Peoples War that went for over 10 years. So it is obvious that the tactics of the party has changed, but has the overall goals and overall aims of the party changed as well?
SKA: No the overall goal of the party has not changed at all and shall not ever change at all. Our ultimate goal will remain the same, of course there will be different tactics, tactical change. This is what we have done in the context of Nepal. No revolution ever repeats, what can be done is revolutions can be developed after taking into account the particular context, particular situation in a society. We need a marxist and leninist model for the particular context of Nepal. Thats what we need to develop. We have to chart a new path, a new phase. that's what we have done, and our vision is that in our revolution the reactionaries of Nepal are trapped in a very critical situation. Because of the contradictions between them they had to change sides, and because of our interpretations of the contradictions in the reactionary classes one group of the reactionary class was compelled to make a kind of compromise or coalition (with the revolutionaries). Certain parliamentary parties were compelled to do so because of the autocratic rule of the then monarchy of King Gyanendra. This is what happened and this is why we had to refine our practices in this way. And s there were elections to the Constituent Assembly in which we, in which our party the UCPN(M) emerged as the largest political force. And later our party had to lead the government. (2)
BP: Now there is the situation where there is both the Peoples Liberation Army, and the (ex Royal) Nepali Army, and this is a big point of different between the Maoist led government and the political opposition(3), how to integrate these armies and implement security sector reform- so what is the Maoist plans for the Security Sector Reform and the integration of the armies?
SKA: As you know that until now two armies existed, one Peoples Liberation Army, one Nepal Army. What needs to happen is the merger of the two armies, and the creation of a new Army. Of course there will be a sort of "process" as the comprehensive peace accord stipulates- supervision, integration and rehabilitation of the maoist combatants. It is the responsibility of the government. So we must respect it, respect both armies and build a new army. Of course if anybody from the PLA wouldn't like to join the army, they can leave safe, maybe they would prefer to join the police force or other security sector- then ok. But in the end all the soldiers, the whole PLA must be able to join the Army.
BP:This has all been complicated recently by the actions of the Nepali Army with the support of the political opposition in the recruitment issue in the army and the retirement of 8 generals being resisted. At present the army really is renegade, so is this and the actions of the Nepali Congress a threat to democracy and the future of Nepal?
SKA: Well yes, there are serious challenges to the ongoing peace process, but i think in the end this will not be a problem. After all in the interim constitution and the comprehensive peace accords it is clear that integration will happen, so no one can go back from that and those understandings and agreements.
BP: I think it is fair to say that the situation in Nepal is currently one of re founding the nation. As a new beginning for a "New Nepal". "New Nepal" has been talked about allot by the leadership, such as Prachanda and Dr Bhattarai and others, so what will the "New Nepal" look like, and what will the new constitution include?
SKA: Well it will be a republic, this has already been achieved. "New Nepal" for us, for Maoists and revolutionaries "New Nepal" means a Nepal on the way to socialism. On the road to socialism. New Democratic Nepal. Of course for other people "New Nepal" may not mean this. Some want "New Nepal" to be like what the old Nepal already is. Or other people may say "Healthy Nepal" or "Democratised Nepal" but not a Nepal that is on the road to socialism.
BP: That's very interesting. I have a document here "A Brief Introduction to the Policies of the C.P.N (Maoist)" written by Prachanda in 2004 i think, and it talks about the Maoists minimum program. It talks allot about what would be bourgeois democratic norms, such as sovereignty of the people, secular sate, press freedom ect, but there are things here that are very interesting and go beyond a normal western democracy. It talks about special rights for women and dalits (4), a revolutionary land reform and it also talks about "the guarantee of minimum wages and workers participation in industrial management" Is that something that is still a part of the Maoist program, new economic practices?
SKA: This is all part of the Maoist program of course. Until now we have taken government, but state powers are not in our hand and this problem has to be rectified. The revolution has not been completed, it continues, but of course as the revolution is completed a new kind of economy will be here on top of the world(5). A new economy will exist or there can be no victory in Nepal without that.
BP: So workers involvement in the economy and the state?
BP: Well that's very interesting for many observers of Nepal. So while Nepal is at the front of what could be a new socialist revival, there are also other countries around the world undergoing similar processes, also rewriting their constitutions with new provisions in them. Namely Venezuela and Bolivia, so have the Maoists in Nepal been looking at the experiences in Latin America?
SKA:One difference. We are interested at looking to Venezuela, Bolivia and the Others, but still, but we think our party is better as we consider Marxism Leninism Maoism as our guiding principle and we use this influence and follow the path of Mao Tse Tung indefinitely, which means New Democratic Revolution. (For) the accomplishment of the revolution it is critical to follow the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we follow and therefore our policies will be better suited to opposing our class enemies. But we see the policies and the struggle of the people in Venezuela, Bolivia and the Latin American Countries against imperialism, particularly against US imperialism. They stand against this, which we strongly appreciate, and i strongly believe that in the future that's there could be an international anti-imperialist organisation, of which those countries would be a major part.
BP: So the revolution in Nepal would be looking to make international anti-imperialist allies in Latin America?
SKA: Not only that but we think that that is a must. To accomplish revolution in a particular country against the reactionary forces of that country is not enough. Today's world is such that every ruling class of any country is completely supported by imperialist forces. No ruling class can sustain by itself. So for that matter the fight against a particular ruling class in a particular country much develop into a fight against imperialism. In any struggle it would be typical for foreign intervention to come and support their interests. So not only do we need relations with these Latin American countries, but to be able to properly handle the international contradictions some kind of international anti-imperialist organisation is a must. This is something we hope we can build with the Latin American countries.(6)
BP: So speaking of foreign intervention,there has been allot of opposition leaders, such as G.P Koirala (Nepali Congress), the Ex King Gyanendra and K.P. Oli (CPN(UML)) all congregating in Dehli under different pretexts. Also in the Constituent Assembly there has been increasing pressure on the Maoists. It has widely been speculated that there may be attempts to overthrown the government. If this was to happen what would be the response of the Maoists?
SKA:This is a risk, an we are aware that they may try to do so, but they have a problem, they are not in a position to do so. They want to run the government, they want to run the agenda, they want to form their own government, they want to run the country themselves, but it is not easy for them to do so. People have a consciousness. People have supported communist forces. This government has come to power not by means of insurrection or gun or means they do not like but through a process of elections, which our party was a part. So, constitutionally and legally they are not able to overthrow us. This is why India wants to be involved to endanger the Maoist led government. We know very well what they want, we are thinking only what we must do. We know what they want and we only worry about what we should do. I don't think they will be able to threaten toe government. I don't think so. (7)
BP: This can tie in with the situation where it is clear that while you have government you do not have state power. The army does what it wants to do, the bureaucracy has been either unwilling or unable to implement the budget, so does the party aspire to challenge for state power?
SKA:We hope to do so. We plan to do that as we know very well that the old bureaucracy is seeped in the "status quoist" mindset and we have new and fresh ideas. There can be no link with the past and its conflicting thinking. At the moment we are helpless to move forward, but we are looking for ways that we can tackle this kind of thing. Smash the old bureaucracy and create a new one. We are looking for ways.
BP: So for one final question, are you optimistic for the "New Nepal" and what are you dreams| what do you want to sons and daughters of Nepal to inherit from the current generation?
SKA: Definitely, why not!?! we are optimistic, if we were not, why join the revolution? We may as well not have joined the party! There are many challenges, which for revolutionaries and our movement, we have to face them, we believe that, we are confident that the strong lead of marxism leninism maoist will be successful. We will be successful in climbing all the obstacles and challenges and ultimately we will be victorious, accomplish the revolution. Not by taking old paths but by taking a new one, because this is the 21st century. For this reason we would like to call upon progressive and leftist forces of the world- like you people from Australia- to support us so that the revolution can be accomplished.
1. Nepal's election to the constituent assembly was a mixed electoral system, firstly direct elections in electorates, and then a direct proportional representation system as well.
2. This passage might not be particularly clear unless your familiar with the processes in Nepal. In short the Maoist led peoples war came to an end when the Maoists made a peace agreement with parliamentary parties after they adopted the Maoist calls for a Constituent assembly. They were compelled to do so after the monarchy ousted them from their limited parliamentary powers and created a police state. Now however they are "trapped in a very critical situation", the writing of a new constitution where the Maoists have the final say on the constitution.
3. The political opposition is lead by the Nepali Congress who have remained outside of the government, however it also includes forces within the government, particularly the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist). If talking about the political opposition it refere's to all these parties.
4. Dalits are people from the lowest caste in the Hindu caste system which existed in Nepal. Also known as untouchables.
5. "on top of the world" refers to that fact that Nepal has Sagarmatha (Mt Everist) and 8 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world within its borders. People in Nepal often talk about Nepal being on top of the world, or the roof of the world.
6. These comments on Latin America are obviously very interesting. I just think I should add that there is a bit of difference of opinion between the Maoists as to what to make of Latin America. Some see it as a revolution, others as (such as these comments) as a anti-imperialist uprising in need of "marxist leninist maoist thought", so the party in my opinion hasn't totally defined how it relates to the Latin Americans. What is standard however is a recognition that these are significant events and the need for greater intercontinental links.
7. This passage is a little confusing, the essence of what is being said that because the Maoists have taken government in a process that has the support of the vast majority of people and was supported by the reactionary powers in India and the parties of the political opposition, now these political parties are not left with a leg to stand on and are unable to remove the Maosits from power, and a consciousness of the people means that the political opposition is unable to go use extra constitutional means without rousing the mass of the people.