Never wanted to be an envoy. I had agreed on PM's request
The government back in November nominated Maoist Politburo member Ram Karki as the new Nepali ambassador to India. But the likely host is yet to send an agreemo on Karki’s name. Karki is known to be close to Baburam Bhattarai. But in recent times the relationship between them has reportedly soured. In this context, Post B Basnet talked to Karki about the reasons behind the delay in the sending of his agreemo, his relationship with PM Bhattarai and the ideological divides within the Maoist party.
What do you make of India’s delay in sending of your agreemo?
You´d better pose this question to the government. Frankly, I am a politician and have never aspired to become an ambassador. It was the prime minister (Baburam Bhattarai) who asked me to become the ambassador to India that has been exerting so much influence in our country for so long. We are in a crucial phase of political transition, and it is very important to earn the goodwill of that country. And that’s the reason why I accepted the proposal. I am not a career diplomat. I only honored the request of the government. So you will get better answer if you ask this question to the prime minister. Why was I not appointed a minister like others?
Have you not asked the prime minister why India did not send the agrimo?
No, I have not. Why should I? It is his problem. As the parliament of Nepal had endorsed me as the Nepali envoy, India should have recognized it. The media should have raised the issue, and asked why an ambassador-designate of a sovereign country was not recognized, but they did not.
There are reports that India did not accept you as you are the supporter of the Gorkhaland movement and Maoist insurgency in India. Some even cited your wife´s job with the Indian public service as a factor.
I don´t know why such things are being written in newspapers. None of these arguments is valid. If establishing matrimonial relations with someone from India could deprive people of ambassadorship or some other important appointment, people of Tarai would think twice before marrying an Indian woman.
So far as my support for the Gorkhaland movement is concerned, the Indian government has recognized the validity of the movement and struck a deal with its proponents. The so-called communist government of West Bengal desperately tried to paint it as a separatist movement but that could not stand very long. I am a Nepali language speaker and it is natural for me and my party to sympathize with the movement. Moreover, I am a communist. You don’t have the moral right to call yourself a communist if you don’t support the movements for justice around the world.
Similarly, it is an open secret that there was a fraternal relation between the Maoists of India and Nepal. Since I have been working for the party’s foreign affairs department for so long, it is natural for me to establish relations with Indian Maoists. But it was only party-to-party relations.
So it is wrong to say that they rejected me as an ambassador for marrying an Indian or sympathizing with the movement of Nepali speakers in India. The prime ministers of the two countries should know the real reason.
Then what´s the reason?
Why should I ask anyone? They had long been saying that India will send the agreemo. India is a giant country, physically and geographically. Nepal has never questioned about the Indians who are nominated ambassadors to Nepal. Both politicians and bureaucrats have become envoys here. There is a recent report (on how India views Nepal) prepared by Indian strategists and those close to Indian establishment. It clearly states the impressions of smaller neighbors of India, and makes recommendations to rectify the country´s shortcomings.
Reports say you were also rejected as an ambassador to France and India previously. Is it true?
A statement of the then French ambassador clearly said that France had sent its agreemo and that it was ready to welcome me as an ambassador. As for India, I don’t know if the Nepali prime minister held any formal-informal talks with anyone about nominating me.
One of the factions in your party to which you belong has been labeled pro-Indian. Do you regard yourself as pro-Indian, especially in wake of India´s failure to recognize you as an envoy?
I am a proud Nepali. But this doesn’t mean that I am anti-India. I am still a pro-Indian. In fact there are two Indias. One is of the Indian people who have sacrificed and struggled for the betterment of mankind, and raise their voices for Nepal and other poor countries. It’s that India that I support.
Is it true that your relation with PM Bhattarai has soured?
Usually we politicians have political relations with each other. We can also develop emotional relations over time. I have only supported him conditionally. During the insurgency, I felt that there had been great injustice against him and those who shared his views, which was the reason I supported him. Otherwise there is no reason for Bhattarai to feel any obligation towards me. Nor do I seek any return for my support. During the Kharipati meeting, we supported Mohan Baidya, but that was also with some conditions.
We were at loggerheads over the theoretical and political line with him, but we shared the same organizational line. Circumstances will decide which line will prevail. But we should currently prioritize the party´s organizational line that has virtually collapsed. Baidya could also not uphold this cause for long and had to compromise. So we backed Bhattarai again. I believe it is not the time for an armed struggle, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need any struggle. Both Chairman Dahal and Bhattarai talk about peace and constitution, but there is no political program to implement it. Similarly, there is no organizational, military, and economic line to back the theoretical and political line.
It is said that the dissolution of the military formed by the Maoists will lead to peace in the country. Integration and rehabilitation is only a part of the peace process. Reviving the constitution of the 1990, as one Nepali Congress (NC) leader has suggested, and setting aside the issue of state restructuring will not lead to lasting peace. It will be like riding a fantasy horse. The prevailing situation of anarchy might give birth to a dictator. Under such circumstances there is no meaning of being loyal to anyone. A communist party should always be a cadre-based party loyal to the masses. Knowingly or unknowingly, attempts are afoot to transform the party into a mass-based party. Its revolutionary spirit is being killed.
How do you evaluate the performance of Bhattarai government?
Baburamji has already stated that posterity will evaluate his performance (laughing). But Nepali people don’t have that patience. They will evaluate his performance based on immediate results. The state was weakened in the past due to People´s War at the grassroots level and contradictions within the ruling class above. NC and UML want to tinker the state apparatus by giving space to the Maoists within the system, without restructuring the state. That’s the reason why the NC doesn’t want to lead the government. But that will not work.
How do you think the leadership will deal with the intra-party feud?
In the past, party unity was kept intact by the principle of centralism minus democracy. The consequence is that there is democracy now, but no centralism. All the leaders are responsible for that.
How do you evaluate the roles of Dahal, Baidya and Bhattarai in current political scenario?
It’s said that there are only two lines in the party, one led by Baidya and the other by Bhattarai. But that´s only partially right. None of the lines is updated. Otherwise it would not have been possible for the chairman to be the center of attention when he joined hands with Baidya and now that he appears to have switched over to Bhattarai’s camp he is in the limelight again.
There are leadership qualities in the chairman. Bhattarai correctly assesses the politics of the day, but he doesn’t have the right mechanism to implement his vision. He tried to float his vision from the party organization created by the chairman and Baidya. This is also the reason behind his current success or failure, whatever you might prefer to call it. Baidya is committed to revolutionary theory, but he lacks political programs to achieve the goal, while the chairman has become too pragmatist at the cost of ideology and theory. Those who are still clean and those who are not tainted with corruption and dubious contract deals should join forces to launch an intra-party campaign for party purification, ideological clarity and to set into motion new political programs.
The face of communism has been disfigured and we don’t know what legacy we will leave behind. I fear the concept of communism will be construed as dubious contract dealings or extortions.
Then what will happen if the party doesn’t change track?
As we have seen in other countries, it will split into numerous factions. There are talks that there will be only three parties. I don’t think it will split into only three parties.
I have always demanded party general convention and financial transparency, but no one is serious about it. We should have immediately held a general convention, and began an accounting system to maintain financial transparency. Now see the luxury buildings of Maoist leaders, all in the name of security and welcoming Nepali and foreign guests! After the success of Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin stayed at a residence that expanded over 26 square meter, while his wife Nadezhda bought ordinary meal from the nearby cafeteria. But see the situation in Nepal. What happened to the communist leaders?
How do you assess India´s role in Nepal´s peace process?
It will be against the interests of our neighbors if Nepal turns into another Afghanistan or the Balkans. So the big neighbor should obviously prefer peace and stability. But it is not happening. Just see the recent report about India´s relations with the neighbors prepared. In India the political parties are being discredited while the bureaucracy, which was trained by the British for centuries, is increasingly becoming powerful. It is not a good sign for Nepal.