Rebellion Is Justified!: Interview with Comrade Prachanda

Tuesday, June 20

Interview with Comrade Prachanda

Nepal's Kantipur television interviewed Comrade Chairman Prachanda of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Below are selected excerpts. In the interview, Comrade Prachanda puts forward a vision for a new-type people's democracy in which the national capitalists will have a place at the table of the multi-class rule characterized by Mao Zedong's concept of new democracy. The remarkable tactical flexibility of the Nepalese communists, coupled with their firm defense of basic communist principles, has allowed them to make such impressive gains:

Q. You have suddenly landed on the liberal political ground from a violent political base, especially after the 12-point understanding with the seven parties. What were the reasons behind the understanding?

Prachanda: Our political base was not that rigid. Ours is a party which had to wage a People's War for just rights despite entering Parliament. We were the third largest party in Parliament.... We lawfully tried to raise some issues- issues related to nationality, people's daily requirements and democracy- even back then. We are not rigid. What we said even after starting the People's War is that we are not communists of the traditional type. Even after the start of the People's War, we have always been ready to accept the people's verdict. We had told the government during the very first peace talks let's hold constituent assembly elections; that the solution to our problem lay there. We were never into rigid politics. We were very much wide and flexible.

Q. You took up arms for political change. Isn't that rigid?

Prachanda: To take up weapons is just a form of politics. I don't think you become rigid once you take up arms. Taking up weapons is also a form of flexibility.


Q. How optimistic are you (about peace talks)? Do you doubt (Nepalese Prime Minister) Girija Prasad Koirala's honesty?

Prachanda: Rather than Koirala's honesty, how he will run the politics is the major thing. In my first meeting with him three years back, I had told him "You accept a republic, we will accept multiparty. Then the country will become new. Let's make a new Nepal." He had replied immediately, "Congress cannot go for a republic right now." He is still where he was three years back. He mentioned ceremonial king only yesterday. But this ceremonial thing doesn't work in Nepal. This proves how much rigid he is. This concept of a ceremonial king will not work- one, because of the army, and two, because of the king's own character.

Q. Do you personally feel that the talks will be successful?

Prachanda: I don't think the seven-party leaders are in favour of making the talks successful. And I don't think the international power centres, too, are in favour of giving Nepal and Nepalis a forward-looking exit from the current crisis by making the talks successful. To tell you directly, I haven't seen the signs for the talks to be successful. But again, the Nepali people want the talks to be successful and our party, too, wants the same. It depends on how much the people's and our party's initiatives can be taken forward. The talks will be successful if the pressure can be increased.

Q. What kind of republicanism is it that you have been talking about?

Prachanda: There shouldn't be the parliamentary republicanism, which is in practice in other countries, in Nepal. That doesn't solve the problem. There's no question of an autocracy. We need a republicanism of our own kind.

Q. You have envisioned a people's republic, no?

Prachanda: Mao Zedong's People's Republic cannot fulfill the needs of today's world. It cannot address today's political awareness appropriately. Mao said cooperative party theory; we called it competitive party theory. We have said let's move ahead from the conventional People's Republic and develop it as per the specialties of the 21st century.

Q. You do not follow the old concept of communism?

Prachanda: Definitely not. What happened without competition? In the USSR, Stalin gave no place to competition and went ahead in a monolithic way. What was the result?

Q. Let's talk about the economy. The 21st century world is a free-market world. How do you see the open market economic policy?

Prachanda: The economy should not be given a free rein in the name of a free market. We should take the middle way. Words like liberalisation and globalisation are being much touted these days. But if you look at it closely, the very supporters of these theories have not implemented it in their own countries. The most powerful countries and America themselves have not implemented it. They have referred it to the poorest countries. Competition has been referred to undeveloped countries. We are against that policy. It's not right.

Q. The country's resources haven't increased. The number of mouths to feed has. In such a situation, do you think the country's development is as easy as you are saying?

Prachanda: I think development is not that difficult a thing. The main thing is what policies and plans the state adopts and what kind of programmes it brings forward for the millions of people. This is the main thing. One hundred years back, we were very much self-dependent. We were not economically weaker than others. If you compare us with many countries of the world, you will know that we are not weak. Others kept progressing and we kept going downhill. We have serious problems in the policies adopted by the state. What I think is if the state has the right programmes and vision, then there are only 200 million mouths but 400 hands. If the 400 million hands are put to work in the right way, imagine where this could take the country in 10 years.

However, we have to cut down certain things to save money. I have been saying that we do not need this 90 thousand-strong army. We can cut it down by 80 thousand. 10 thousand is enough. And then see how much capital we will have. It's not out of any personal grudge that we want to abolish the monarchy. They have amassed hundreds of billions of rupees. Imagine the kind of capital we will have if that is nationalised. Won't miracles happen if we then mobilise the 400 million hands? We can earn millions from our herbs. We have so much Yarchagumba. Let's open processing factories where it is found. Thousands will get jobs and we can earn hundreds of millions of rupees. Money will start growing there.


Q. Business people, industrialists and entrepreneurs are a little concerned about you. Their fear is if you can give them so many problems as a powerful party, you will squeeze them once in power.

Prachanda: We encourage those who want to develop industries in the country, create jobs, make profits and invest the profits in the country. We are organising a national meet of the capitalists. There, we will invite even those who disagree with us. We want that Nepal's capital does not go outside. We are clear that there will be no development in Nepal unless the capitalists can make some profit. But let that profit not be through exploitation and let it also not go abroad. We are also going to propose to the capitalists to invest where the most profit can be made. We should introduce a strict law to stop those who earn here and deposit the money in America or India.