Q: How long has it been since you were here last?
Krishna Bahadur Mahara: It's been about two and a half years.
Q: Didn't you come to the capital after the second round of talks?
Mahara: We held talks in Hapure after the talks in Kathmandu. The talks ended immediately in Hapure. Since the Doramba incident, we have not appeared in public.
马海拉：加德满都和谈之后，我们在Hapure继续谈判。谈判很快在Hapure结束了。自从 Doramba 事件后，我们就没有公开露面。
Q: The main reason why you are in the capital this time is to find a solution to the problems?
Mahara: It's obvious. Not only this time but every time we have come for talks, it has been to give new directions to the people, to make a new Nepal and for bigger social transformation. We have this belief that the above objectives can be reached through talks. We have always believed that there can be peaceful solutions too. A lot has changed in the political scene this time. So, we are here because we seriously believe that we can go for the constituent assembly.
Q: The newly formed government - and the reinstated House of Representatives (HoR) – has made some fresh announcements in favour of the people. Has that helped?
Mahara: It has eased things. In contrast the present government is slightly different from earlier governments. Nevertheless the scenario cannot be considered to be fully acceptable as yet. There still remains a lot to be sorted out.
Q: Your party has critically welcomed the House Proclamation. It's said Maoists were consulted before making the announcement…
Mahara: Our formal reaction to the Proclamation has already been made public. We have welcomed religious secularism and the stripping of many of the king's powers. This is politically a very positive move. But the leaders of many political parties have said that it has made the house fully sovereign. But people are yet to be made sovereign. Therefore this Proclamation is incomplete. Comparatively, this has been a step forward. We, however, wait to see the practical implementation of the announcement. The verdict of the people's revolution is constituent assembly. The basis of the movement is the 12-point understanding between the parties and CPN (Maoist). Constituent assembly is the heart of the revolution. The ultimate aim of the revolution is republicanism.
We are not involved in the Proclamation. So we are apprehensive as to whether the parliamentary political parties will only work to improve and institutionalise the house and legitimise it rather than moving ahead in the direction of a constituent assembly. At least the government should have come to some agreement with our party prior to the Proclamation. It is either weakness or a conspiracy that the government failed to involve us.
Q: The positive moves by the government have created a wave of support in favour of the government and the parties. You have been positive too. But don't you wonder why this is being done before the talks with the Maoists?
Mahara: Yes in some regards we are thinking that. Parliamentary parties have been fighting in the streets for about one and a half years now. Although they were trying to make the movement effective they were not able to. Everybody has seen the face of the movement before and after the 12-point understanding. Since the 12-point understanding was central in taking the movement to the people, our role and participation has been clearly understood in the political circle. We and the people know this. We have had a major role in the movement and we share a major contribution. So if the leaders fail here the people will assess the parties' weakness. If they don’t consult with our party and think that they can do everything on their own, solutions will be difficult to find. It will push us deeper into the maze of problems. If that is the case, we will step forward and lead the people's will and verdict.
Q: Does this mean returning to the armed insurgency?
Mahara: What no one should be mistaken about is that we were taking a peaceful way before our revolution started. We practised parliamentary politics too. When we presented the 40-point demand, we took up peaceful means. We did not choose to start a war; we were compelled to. We came to talks twice and maintained sincerity there too.
Our main agenda was always a constituent assembly. So it was not that we spoiled the talks and returned. Secondly, this time too we have come with sincerity and a sense of responsibility. Our peaceful aspirations have always been there in the past and present and they will be there in the future too. But if any force tries to conspire and work against the people's will, we might be compelled to take that way despite our unwillingness. We hope that will not happen.
Q: The present House, reinstated by the pressure of the movement, is a different House and has declared itself all-powerful and sovereign. When you raise unnecessary doubts it may fail to work as per the people's aspirations?
Mahara: No, it's not like that. Where is our place in the present House of Representatives? We are the political force who is not represented in the present House. Not only us, there are several other political forces who are outside the present House. There are only the representatives of the seven parties. And it's false that the mass movement was launched only by the seven parties. There are parliamentarians (in the present House) elected seven or eight years ago. People have advanced in this period. The House does not represent the people's mandate as expressed during the movement. The base of the House is the Constitution of 1990, which we say is a regressive constitution. We are against the 1990 Constitution. Talking truthfully, there are representatives (in the House) who were against the mass movement.
Q: So which mechanism can be formed to include the Maoists?
Mahara: The central committee meeting of our party has put forth a 10-point roadmap. A broad political conference should be organized comprising all the political forces including the representation of all the levels of the seven parties, the Maoists and civil society. We have been stressing for a roundtable conference for the last few years. That conference will be more powerful than the present House and will work as an interim constitution. The all-powerful interim government formed afterwards will hold the constituent assembly elections.
Q: Nepali people want peace and the present government has been somewhat successful in establishing it. What has hampered taking the talks process ahead?
Mahara: The government has taken a positive step towards creating an environment conducive for talks. But the government should not confine itself just to that. Doubts will be raised if it gets stuck just there.
Q: Perhaps, since the announcement has been made to go for constituent assembly elections, there should be no uncertainties?
Mahara: Yes, theoretically an agreement has been reached. We shouldn’t forget the experience of the present House as it has approved various proposals of national interest. But such decisions are still pending so far. To be optimistic, the government itself has presented such proposals in the parliament and that all the oppositions have welcomed them. It's totally false that the proclamation has made the king powerless. The king is still in a position to hatch a conspiracy. There could still be interference by foreign powers. There are still some forces that do not want peace and stability in the country. There are such forces conspiring against us to stop us from the peace process. It can't be said that such forces, that committed incidents like Doramba, will not repeat their tactics against us. The whole peace process depends on how responsibly the seven-party government will come forward.
Q: Don't you believe that a conducive environment for the implementation of all the decisions exists since you have been collaborating with the seven parties for some time now?
Mahara: This government is different than any others in the past. We have called it the seven-party government and not one of the old regimes. Saying that the present government is formed by the pressure of the mass movement, we mean that we are a part of the movement. We have come to assist the government. We have come here to collaborate with it, not to struggle. We will encourage and assist the government to take a concrete step towards constituent assembly elections. So, the talks this time will be different compared to the past two ones.
Q: When will the talks begin?
Mahara: We will start now. First the government should release all our political detainees. The government should not delay as it has expressed its commitment towards the 12-point understanding. The whereabouts of all our comrades who have disappeared at the hands of the past government should be made public. The government has responded responsibly on this issue. Talks should be held after completing all these tasks. We are for accomplishing the talks process as soon as possible. We have also stressed on quickly going for constituent assembly elections jointly.
eKantipur: So the whole process will move ahead after your participation in the government?
Mahara: We will not participate in the present government but will join the interim government. Before that the old constitution should be annulled and the new interim constitution should be drafted. After the formation of the interim constitution, all the organs of the state will be at the interim stage and through that phase it will be easier to go for a constituent assembly.
Q: When will your Chairman Prachanda come for the final negotiations?
Mahara: It depends on the climate of trust. All our senior comrades including the chairman will come for talks at the time of the final decision, when the process for the constituent assembly elections begins.
Q: Will Prachanda come only for the final signature?
Mahara: Yes, our chairman will lead from our side and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, as the head of the seven parties, will sit for negotiations. For that we need to accomplish all the procedures.
Q: You seem to be assisting the government but at the same time you have intensified extortions and abductions. How will it be supportive in creating an environment for talks?
Mahara: Hmm, I need to tell you a little bit about this. We recently studied the case of the industries shut in Bara and Parsa. We had begun asking donations with industrialists in the past. But this time the issue has been raised sharply. Arguments on the ordinary issues of donations, military (Maoists') demonstrations and abductions are rife. The elements that are against the talks, have attempted to break up the peace talks, by raising such issues. We have no option but to ask donations from the people for our army. We have directed all out cadres not to take money forcibly. Our friends have handed over the fake Maoists from Kathmandu as well. What has been said on abductions is false, who have not abducted anyone. Some people have come to us and asked us to call it abduction for security reasons. We have not demonstrated our arms in the city. We do not agree that the people are intimidated by the Maoists. A large section of the people are with us and that is why we have arrived at this position. The more the talks gain momentum the more such issues will decrease. There were several complications before reaching the 12-point understanding. The environment for collaboration was created after that. Politics will resolve every problem; there is no room to doubt us.
马海拉：关于这一点，我要向你讲明。我们最近调查了Bara 和 Parsa.两地企业关闭的情况。过去我们一直请求企业家捐款。而这次问题变的尖锐了。关于普通捐款问题，毛派军事示威和诱拐的争论开始普遍了。一些反对和谈并试图破坏和谈的人提出了这些问题。我们没有其他选择只有请求人民为我们的军队捐款。我们指示干部不要强取。我们的朋友也指出在加德满都有假毛派活动。关于诱拐是捏造的，我们没有诱拐任何人。一些人找到我们，是出于安全原因请求我们保护。我们没有在城市搞武装示威。我们不同意人民被毛派胁迫的说法。正因为有广大人民的支持，我们才发展到今天的程度。和谈取得的成果越多，这类谣言就会越少。在12点协议达成前也存在一些复杂问题，但后来合作环境还是建立了。
Q: Why do you ask for donations when the government has already said it is ready to allocate a budget for the Maoist army?
Mahara: We will seriously present this issue during the talks. We will stop asking donations from the people if the government provides the budget to our army.
Q: How can the Maoist militia be managed before the constituent assembly elections?
Mahara: We have not taken it as a big issue. An army can easily be managed if a political solution is reached. The problem doesn’t lie with our army; it’s with the Royal Nepalese Army. The army (King's) was mobilized against the people and has been in favour of the monarchy for the last 238 years. It will be a serious mistake to believe that everything is all right just by saying that the RNA is now under the control of the House. We have proposed for a restructuring of the state and army. A new National Army can be formed after merging our army and the RNA.
There are no obstacles from our side to go for free and fair elections. Both the armies (RNA and Maoist) can be neutralized. It has been mentioned on the 12-point understanding that the armies can be kept under UN or any credible organization's supervision.
Q: Will it be problematic, as the RNA has already been converted to the Nepali Army?
Mahara: The RNA has been converted into the Nepali Army only in words not in practice. There are still aristocrats, feudalistic thoughts and opinions existing within the RNA, which cannot be changed overnight by one decision.
Q: But, it has been mentioned that if the Nepal Army is weakened, problems might be created if the Maoists suddenly try to take control?
Mahara: We have said (before and after reaching the 12-point understanding) that our army is everyone's army. We had even proposed the seven parties to induct their cadres in our army and take responsible positions. We are ready to make our army- the army of the seven parties. It will be a great delusion on their part if they trusted the king's army rather than that of the people's.
Q: When will the people get the chance to hear of peace?
Mahara: We want to end this process as soon as possible. But it doesn’t depend only on our desire. We are hopeful that the people's dream will come true soon.
Q: Have you begun talks with the government?
Mahara: I have begun holding informal talks. We are pressuring the government to start the talks immediately. The government has still not been able to form a talks team. The government lacks seriousness. We, on the other hand, are already ready for talks.
(By Gunaraj Luitel and Ujir Magar)