Prachanda tempts SPA, blasts King and America

Maoist supremo Prachanda revealed something of his mind in an exclusive interview to Kathmandu Post/Kantipur dailies published significantly enough on 7 February, a day before the municipal polls and about mid-way through their seven-day bandh.

The face-to-face interview was, as expected, at “an undisclosed location”, which seemingly could be in Nepal or possibly even in India. An earlier face-to-face interview with Prachanda, it will be recalled, was published by the Times of India in mid-September last year, or shortly after signing of a deal between the Indian and Nepalese Maoists and in the wake of their just announced three-month cease-fire. That, too, had taken place “at an undisclosed location.”

Tip of Iceberg

Like the proverbial iceberg, however, only the tip of his mind and that of the guiding Prachanda Path philosophy of the Maoist movement has been exposed. Meaningfully, at various points, the Maoist chief takes care to qualify his pronouncements with the flexible “at this moment” caveat as, for instance, in his answer to what the “bottom line for restoring peace” is.

In response, he stated: “The understanding we have reached with the seven parties is the bottom line at the moment.” There was no follow-up question on what “at the moment” implies. Elsewhere, too, the same qualifier is resorted to. Thus, while replying to a query about the attainment of their goals, Prachanda explains, thus: “Given the international power balance and the overall economic, political and social realties of the country, we can’t attain those goals at the moment.”

At another juncture, Prachanda directs his attention to the parties, thus: “We have told the parties, you take the leadership role, we don’t need it. The only thing is that the country should find a way out. We have said that the party leaders can lead (the) democracy. We are not in a hurry to lead the nation.”

Will that be soothing music to SPA ears, or will it, instead, cause them to mull over the implications of such uncommon political generosity? Alternatively, why is it that the Maoists have become so soft on

“Girija and Madhav” who in the past were fiercely opposed to them, with the NC actually leading a “state terror” campaign to wipe them out in Rolpa via the Romeo and Kilo Sera operations? Are there apprehensions that the SPA might walk out of the SPAM deal, even now? Are there forces out there that are terrified at that prospect and have influenced the Maoists to soft soap the SPA?

Indeed, the Maoists, after opposing the SPA proposal on the restoration of the dead-as-yesterday’s-mutton House of Representatives now are ready “even” for that. The only condition that has been attached is: “Don’t try to restore the authoritarian order.”

In dense language infused with Marxist-Leninist-Maoist can’t and rhetoric, Prachanda has sought to tempt the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) while predictably taking pot shots at the King and, not very surprisingly, at the United States. Whether it is by coincidence or design, criticism of India is both perfunctory and mild which is revealing though hardly surprising given the Maoist’s well-known Indian connections, both at the official and fraternal levels. Both the concerned dailies, too, have lately become visibly pro-Indian.


Not surprisingly, the main target of Prachanda’s ire is the King, including for not responding to the Maoists’ so-called cease-fire that was clearly used, as suspected all along, to rebuild, recruit, rearm and replenish as demonstrated by their actions after 2 January, 2006.

As much as also evident in their stress on the 12-point SPAM pact formalised in New Delhi and unveiled shortly thereafter on 22 November 2005. Shorn of all excess verbiage and rhetoric, that deal is directed, clearly and squarely, at the ouster of the King and the abolishment of the Monarchy.

Yet, in this interview, Prachanda virtually bends over backwards to convince all and sundry that they are prepared to accept even the verdict of a constituent assembly in which the “people say we want an active monarch.” As all know, that is a proposition that is contradicted every day by their acts of violence and public utterances.

In fact, in response to a question about policy shifts by India vis-a-vis them, Prachanda says: “We have (sic) thought there are (sic) certain changes post-February 1, but India and America don’t want to finish the monarchy off.” The clearly implied message is: “Whereas, we want to.”

The repeated references in the interview, directly and indirectly, to the King also makes that abundantly clear. So, too, that there should be such a resolute effort to not only malign the Royal Nepal Army but also to confound the people by suggesting as if it were the easiest thing in the world to have the SPA contribute to their People’s Army and then have all three forces amalgamated into one big, happy family. Is this serious, you want to ask immediately?

Surprisingly, there is no mention about the municipal election or of the bandh under whose very shadow the interview has, so to speak, taken place. Was the interview, then, merely another means to disrupt the polls and confuse the people about their “peaceful” ways, in the midst of their “people’s war” that has claimed over 13,000 lives thus far?

Frequently, Prachanda’s answers have been all too glib such as why after declaring that he would not dialogue with the parties but with the King, the Maoists did a neat somersault. Frustratingly, but perhaps not very surprisingly, the follow-up questioning is unsatisfying, even flaccid. All in all, it would seem to be a Nepali version of the Times of India interview that, seemed on balance and in the main, directed at downplaying the Maoists’ Indian nexus.

As already noted, there is only a perfunctory reference to India in the question segment. Given the situation on the ground and India’s transparent multi-faceted role in the Maoist insurgency, including that in patching up differences with the Maoist leadership and in facilitating the anti-Monarchy SPAM pact, that lacuna stands out, to use the cliche, like a sore thumb.


Surprisingly, while the US gets the full blast of Maoist anger India, its “strategic partner” is virtually let off the Maoists’ opprobrium hook. That is surely something to think about by all. That includes by the Americans whose president is visiting India in less than one months’ time.

Although it is not particularly newsy that Prachanda should throw such barbs at the United States, yet the vehemence and frequency with which he has chosen to do so in the Kantipur/Kathmandu Post interview is quite amazing, not least since the US has suspended arms supplies to the RNA, post-Feb 1, 2005. Indeed, Prachanda not only takes strong exception to what he claims is America’s continuing support for the Monarchy but, indeed, lashes out on virtually every front against America: Iraq, Afghanistan, Chile, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Calling America the “biggest terrorist of the world” Prachanda also takes a personal swipe at Ambassador Moriarty whom he accuses of “exaggerating” things while referring to Maoists.

Prachanda clearly is still dreaming about a world revolution, sparked from Nepal – an outlook that most sane people in the world will roundly reject. Nevertheless, it is interesting – and revealing of his and his senior colleagues’ collective state of mind – that “if it’s successful in Nepal it will have a direct impact on one billion people of India, and it will also spill over into China. When it affects two or two and a half billion people, it means it will have impact all over the world.”

Interestingly, the Maoist chief has little directly to say about China, the land of Mao Zedong. China figures indirectly, as mentioned above, mainly in the context of a “spill over” of the Maoists movement from Nepal into China.

That is something that the “new” China – Deng Xiaoping’s China now run by Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao and other colleagues – will surely resist, if they have to. While it explains China’s infrequently expressed “concern” over current developments in Nepal, it should only reinforce Beijing’s determination to ensure that such a “spill over” does not, in fact, take place.

M. R. Josse is a writer on Nepal and the author of Nepal: Politics of Statemate, Confusion and Uncertainty and Nepali Politics 2002-03: Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods.