By Neil Horning
The following is a translation of an interview conducted with Com. Karan, the Maoists District Secretary of Kaski, in the Maoists district office on February 22. The first part of the interview consists of questions devised by me, and the second consists of questions submitted to me online and from friends in Pokhara. Special thanks to Mahesh Bandari for serving as my translator.
The Medheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) has raised many of the same issues that you have historically, and has recently said that they will contest the constituent assembly elections. What type of challenge do you believe this will pose to you?
It won’t effect the election because these are the same issues that we had years before. Now just before the constituent assembly the Medheshi Peoples Rights Forum has stolen our ideas. They are just trying to benefit from the Maoist work in the past. They are opportunists. It may reflect some weakness on our part that people were manipulated into supporting the MJF. We were going to raise all of those issues that they did during the constituent assembly. However, it is telling that while the MJF raises many of our issues, they do not talk about land redistribution or empowerment of marginalized casts. This indicates they are actually a Hindu fundamentalist organization in the Pocket of the King and the BJP.
Would you say they represent the ruling class of the Terai?
It has been reported often in the News that you are seizing voter roles, because the Electoral Commission is excluding migratory workers, people in rented houses and political activists who currently reside outside their district. Now that there are Maoist lawmakers in Parliament, aren’t efforts at the central level enough?
We are not doing that in on all locations, but only some, and only to put pressure on the Government. The government must provide a fair way for all people to vote peacefully.
What will you do if the government does not do this?
I am confident that the central deliberations will go our way. We will continue to apply pressure. It is unacceptable that someone would not be able to vote simply because they have a reason they can’t be at home, and there are too many people affected. The government must accept this.
Are you doing anything to ensure that people who are give donations to you do so out of genuine support rather than feelings of intimidation?
What the press says about intimidation is very partial. There are a quite a few people who believe that those who give us money do so out fear. However the majority of people are highly attracted to Maoist politics and that is why they are giving us donations.
What type of Maoist policies and programs are being conducted in this district/area?
We are doing the same types of policies and programs that are conducted in other districts, as per the direction of our party.
Can you give an example?
First we are coordinating with other political parties. We want to implement all of the social programs though the other political parties in a cooperative manner. Second, we are doing development work. For instance, the path from Nayapul to Gandruk needs to be maintained periodically. The last time this happened it cost 20 lakh. This time we did it and it cost 5 to 7 lakh (1 lakh = aprox. $1400 US).
How does the concept of the “Dictatorship of the proletariat” interface with multiparty democracy? Are you abandoning the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” postponing it, or redefining it?
We haven’t abandoned it, but we are redefining it. We are fighting for a people’s republic; a republic of all peoples who can stand up to America and the King.
It seems that now instead of a dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, it is a dictatorship over royalists…
We want to have dictatorship over the Bourgeoisie. But now this is a very important tactical step that we have to take. It is a beginning. Now we have to go against royalists together.
The Maoists are going to be entering the interim government next week. Do you have your eye on any particular programs or ministries? Does the U.S. decision to cut aid to these programs effect your decision?
The U.S. can make any kind of decision that they want. We will not beg from them. It does not affect our entry into certain programs. There will come a point after the constituent assembly that we will have the right to claim certain programs, but does not mean that we entered the government in order to fight over ministerial posts.
Do you know which ones you want?
Not at this time.
American Ambassador James F. Moriarty has recently been claiming that you are buying crumby weapons in Bihar. The Indian intelligence agency is claiming that you are buying weapons from Let, and Com. Gaurav recently claimed that “Since entering mainstream politics, we have increased our military strength from 10,000 to a 37,000-strong PLA.” These claims combined may lead people to wonder about your commitment to arms management. Do you have anything to say that would alleviate their worries?
I don’t like to say anything about Moriarty says. America is the proudest and most unilateral country. They like to say “If any other country doesn’t do what we say, then blah, blah, blah…” The report from India is a matter of sadness, but it has not been confirmed officially, so I cannot comment on it. The troop levels of our army have remained constant, so Com. Gaurav was probably talking about an increase in activists. On the issue of acquiring arms, we have three strategies of decreasing priority. First, we make them ourselves. Next, we steal them from the enemy. Last, we buy them. We had sufficient arms captured from the Army, so we didn’t buy many.
However, now is the time to be in the government. If we stay in the government, soon we will have all the arms, so it is not necessary to get arms from other countries. All these reports of buying weapons from other countries are just rumors against our party. Now we are in open politics.
What, if anything, are you planning to change about Gurka recruitment in Nepal?
The people in Nepal join the Gurkas as a Means of economic support. But they are forced to fight in foreign wars that they have no stake in. If they were not compelled to join out of economic necessity they would not do so. So it is not really a matter of honor but a matter of slavery. The Gurkas will not be needed once we have economic development, so we will end Gurka recruitment in Nepal.
Which comes first?
The development must come beforehand. We will end the recruitment once they can all be provided with jobs.
How do you envision the future for foreigners in Nepal? Do residents originating from developed countries have anything to worry about?
There will be no problems for foreigners on the part of the Maoists. The claims that we will stop them from coming or cause them problems are media exaggerations. However, we want foreigners who love Nepal. Those who hurt the country will be thrown out.
What role is the new Young Communist League going to fulfill? Will they be helping in the implementation of your various programs? Will they serve as a replacement for the militia?
It is not a new role for the militia. There are hundreds of thousands of youth in Nepal who have no employment or chance for productive activity. There are also more and more young people who are coming forward politically. The YCL will be an outlet for those youth.
Can you draw a picture of the new state structure? An organizational diagram of how things will work.
We want a structure of interdependent yet independent regions linked like a chain underneath a central hierarchy, much like the system in Switzerland. We want to follow the system of Switzerland very closely.
Does this include the Swiss military structure, with no standing army?
Yes, it will be the same. But this will happen very slowly.
What are the top 3 things that need to happen in order to achieve lasting peace in Nepal.
There is just one thing.Those who have been ruled over need to be given the right to rule themselves. All other things flow from that.
You have received nothing but trouble from the American administration over the years. Yet, as it is now, if a tourist goes into the mountains it is nearly impossible for them to keep from putting money in America’s pocket. In light of this what is your position on American products in Nepal (Coca-Cola, Marlboro etc.)? It is known that you have in the past closed down various industries for one reason or another. So, is there a Maoist double standard regarding American products?
I appreciate this question. Whoever asked it truly loves this country. America has the same policy all around the underdeveloped world. Above all, America uses its products to capture markets and dominate others. There may seem to be a double standard. But we are fighting in our own way. We will develop products like Coca-Cola and Marlboro here. Then there will be no need to fight American products.
What are you going to do to ensure tourism continues and increases? Furthermore how will you ensure the conservation of the National Parks? Where does Tourism fit into your future economic plans?
We have a complete package for economic change. Only developing one sector will not change the economic situation of the country. Nepal must not only be politically independent, but it must be economically independent as well. Tourists will always be welcome in Nepal. What is happening now is that Nepalese people are going all over the world and showing people our wonderful culture. We would like to have the opposite of that. We would like People from all over the world to come here. Then when they go home they can spread our culture themselves. When tourists come here in the future, they will have total security.
What is your view on the Indo-American military alliance? Deals to provide India with modern jet fighters for instance?
This is just another example, and another means for, the U.S. domination of all the countries of the world.
Do you think the king should be tried in international court?
Yes, he’s a criminal; of course he should be tried in international court.
There are 3 different main religions in Nepal; Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Officially, the Maoists do not believe in any of them. How will you respond to religions that try to assert themselves politically, such as the case of Hindu Fundamentalists?
We want to stop all oppression that happens in the name of religion. However, anyone may freely practice the religion of their choice.
Neil Horning, an American currently living in Nepal, has conducted Multiple interviews with Maoist combatants and their superiors during the Nepalese conflict and subsequent period. He holds a BA of International Relations from San Francisco State University. Personal Blog