Nepal was finally declared a republic on May 28 by its newly elected Constituent Assembly (CA), bringing to an end 240-year-old rule by the Shah dynasty.
But consensus still eludes the members of the CA on many issues. Despite having emerged as the single largest party winning 220 seats in the 601-member house, the Maoists have failed to form a government so far. In an exclusive interview Maoist chairman Prachanda spoke to Anirban Roy. Excerpts:
How long will it take to form the new government in Nepal?
In the past week, we have had a series of intense political discussions. In another week the political issues will be resolved and we should be able to form the new government.
Do you have the support of other political parties?
Definitely. One of the parties, Janamorcha Nepal, has already extended support. We are talking to the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML).
How soon will Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala resign to make way for the new government?
We do not want Koirala to step down or resign. Rather, we want him to be the guardian of the new coalition and guide it at every step. Actually, we want him to play a political role similar to Sonia Gandhi’s in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in India.
What are the hurdles in forming the new government?
We are still stuck on two points. One, the question of Nepal’s new president and prime minister. Two, we need to resolve the question of simple majority and two-thirds majority.
Is your party demanding both the posts of President and Prime Minster?
Yes, senior members of our party are now keen to have both the top positions, as we are the largest party in Nepal. Our party manifesto had also projected me as the first president of the republic of Nepal. So, I am not in a position to propose someone else’s name to be the president.
Your party has been talking about establishing Nepal as a ‘Communist republic’. We want a democratic republic. We are not trying to establish a communist republic.
Once the government is established, which country would you like to visit first?
I would like to visit both our giant neighbours — India and China.
How can India and China help you?
India and China are the fastest growing economies of the world. We can reap benefits from both and march towards the path of prosperity.
Would you like to copy the West Bengal model of communism in Nepal?
I would like to learn a lot of things from West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. They (the CPM) have done so much for land reforms, promoted agriculture and ensured help to the peasants. But we do not want to photocopy the West Bengal model.
Do you intend to affiliate your party to the Communist Party of China?
We want to have a party-to-party relationship with them. Last month, they sent a letter to us expressing their desire to have some official relationship with our party. We also would like to have official relationships with political parties in India too. Our relationships with the Indian and Chinese political parties will be the same.
During the last one month, you met Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood three times. What did you discuss?
My meetings with Sood have been primarily centred around the formation of the new government. We also discussed what kind of role New Delhi could play.
What kind of support do you expect from the US?
We expect the US to continue their support to the people of Nepal, especially in the economic field.