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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 732

King Gyanendra’s regime will fall

By Bikash Sangraula in Kathmandu

Khatmandu, 23 October, (Asiantribune.com); Arjun Narsingh K C, 58, has been in active politics in Nepal for 43 years. Currently a Central Committee member of Nepal’s largest party, the Nepali Congress (NC), K C was jailed for the first time at the age of 15 while he was a student, for his democratic beliefs. K C has worked variously as spokesperson of NC, chief of the party’s Intellectuals’ Department, International Department and Publicity Department.

During the democratic exercise in Nepal between 1990 and 2002, be became Education Minister, Health Minister and Minister for Physical Planning and Works. So far, K C has served several jail terms totaling to five years and four months. He recently resigned from the post of the chief of NC’s Policy and Programs Department stating that he would be able to work better as a Central Committee member.

Bikash Sangraula, Kathmandu Correspondent for the “Asian Tribune,” talked to K C at his residence in Kathmandu. Excepts :

Asian Tribune: Election is an important part of democracy. Your party says that it is fighting for democracy. Yet it has decided to boycott elections. Can you explain why?

Arjun Narsingh K C: We know elections are very important in democracy. Some people see the two as synonymous. The important thing here is that this government is unconstitutional and it does not represent the people and the public opinion. The government is trying to justify the royal takeover of February 1, 2005, through election. It is a ploy to make parties endorse autocracy. The main issues in the country now are the autocratic regime of the king and the armed violence from the Maoists. How do elections address these issues? Elections will only complicate the situation.

Even the Maoists have accepted inclusive democracy. Instead of going for that, the government has announced elections. Elections are not possible when the country is suffocated between two gun-wielding forces: the state and the Maoists. That’s why we have decided to boycott elections.

Asian Tribune: During the peaceful protests organized by the political parties in the past few months, the participation from the general public was discouraging. How will that change now?

Arjun Narsingh K C: It is true that active support to the pro-democracy movement is lacking. However, what is also true is that people are not in favor of any absolute regime. They have rejected autocratic rule from the King and will reject Maoists if they intend to bring a totalitarian regime in the name of social equity. People are in favor of democracy.

Currently, people are scared by guns and have not been able to express their wishes properly. However, we think that will change with the ongoing public awareness campaign that the seven-party pro-democracy alliance is conducting as a run-up to a new phase of movement. People’s participation is increasing.

You probably remember that only days before the change in 1990, there were very few people on the streets. But on the D-day, a hundred thousand people came to the streets and the party-less panchayat system collapsed and gave way to democracy.

It will be the same with this regime. The regime is becoming more oppressive by each day. This will fuel anger in the people and they will join the movement in hordes.

Asian Tribune:Can parties engineer a successful political movement? Or, is it something that comes from the people, spontaneously?

Arjun Narsingh K C: Parties light up the flair. In Nepal, along with the parties, civil society, human rights activists, press, Bar and professional organizations are also lighting the flair. No part of national life is in favor of the King’s regime. Even the international community has condemned it. This regime will not be able to resist for long.

Asian Tribune: What must the King, parties and Maoists do to solve the crisis?

Arjun Narsingh K C: First and foremost, the democratic process should be restored. The 1990 Constitution should be reactivated. For that, we want the reinstatement of parliament, as our constitution puts forward the concept of “King in Parliament”. But reinstatement of parliament is not the ultimate solution. It will however pave way for addressing the Maoist agenda, including arms management with due respect to international human rights standards, and commitment to competitive politics. The parliament can go as far as a constituent assembly for drafting a new constitution. That will bring a political solution to the conflict. The new constitution will reorganize the state and make room for inclusive democracy.

We have seen from experience in many countries that development is not possible by containing democracy. This regime has not learnt from international experience. Peace and democracy are intertwined. Development and democracy are also intertwined. Democracy is the central point. First we need democracy through reactivation of the constitution by reinstating the parliament.

Asian Tribune: There is a school of thought in Nepal that Maoists are not a spontaneous force and they are operated by a hidden power. What do you think?

Arjun Narsingh K C: My personal opinion is that the origin of Nepal’s Maoists owes to our feudal history and international revolutionary philosophy. I don’t believe they are operated by a hidden power. But I think they were used to a certain extent by Nepal’s extreme right in the beginning. The Maoists also used the rightists. There was a convenience of interest between them. Both believed that first democracy should be finished off and then they could deal with each other.

Such things have happened in other countries as well. The US gave birth to Taliban to counter Soviet influence in Afghanistan. Later, the US fought Taliban. Srilanka’s Tamil Tigers were initially armed by India. Later Tamil Tigers became instrumental in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Asian Tribune: Do you think international mediation is needed in Nepal? There is a school of thought in a country that says that once the international mediators enter Nepal, they will dictate national politics for decades.

Arjun Narsingh K C: The situation here is very complicated due to a tri-polar conflict. The crisis of confidence between the three sides is widening. I think international cooperation for mending the situation here is very necessary.

Regarding fears expressed by certain quarters, I would like to say that they are over-hyping nationalism so as to bar international mediators from entering the country so that they can continue with their autocratic ways. Tell me, which country in today’s world lives alone, uninfluenced by foreign countries? The world is a global village now. Those who say that entry of foreign mediators will finish off our sovereignty are saying so out of weakness and lack of confidence in their own ability to assert sovereignty.

Asian Tribune: The King is totally cornered now. The parties, Maoists, civil society, press, professional organizations and the international community are all opposing his rule. Everyone has a breaking point. If monarchy eventually collapses, don’t you think Maoists would come and fill that vacuum? From past experiences, we have seen that the Maoists are more brutal that the current state power.

Arjun Narsingh K C: Important question. We are aware of such dangers. That’s why we want commitment from Maoists for competitive democracy, human rights and arms management.

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