Lekhraj’s warning to Vice President: If you cannot live up to the dignity of the post, resign
Far-West leader Lekhraj Bhatta has been close to Prachanda for a long time. He had been supporting Prachanda in every possible way since the armed conflict, but changed camp after the split of the CPN. Now, he is a part of the Oli faction.
Bhatta, who is also the Minister of Industry, is being targeted by Prachanda and former Maoist leaders in his group. A few days ago, Prachanda had criticized him at the party’s public meeting without naming him. Bhatta also did not stop attacking Prachanda in his address.
Below is the conversation with Lekhraj Bhatta with regards to the inauguration of industrial zones.
Lately, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli seems to have given a lot of importance to the Far Western Province. Is it because the party is weaker here than elsewhere?
The state had a different view of the far-western province previously. Thus, it was always overshadowed. When there is no economic prosperity in the country, people are forced to go to the streets of India in search of work.
The whole of Nepal cannot be considered prosperous just by being prosperous only in the valley or beyond Karnali. For that, there should be balanced development. The more backwarded the area, the more development activities should be undertaken. The Prime Minister has given more emphasis to the far-western province with the same thinking. It seems to be a part of the implementation of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepalis’.
You say the state couldn’t be developed yesterday, who couldn’t? Weren’t you also in the lead?
It is not necessary to interpret Oli’s interest in the far western province on the basis of political urges and prejudices. Some were fighting here yesterday as Tharu, some as Pahadi, some as Eastern, some as Western. The same elements are still cultivating confusion. It is natural for those who did nothing yesterday to see the Prime Minister’s initiative for development as wrong.
From this Province, Sher Bahadur became the Prime Minister four times. Lokendra Bahadur Chand also became the Prime Minister three times. When Dr. K. I. Singh was there, the situation was not one in which anything could be done. But the other two should have done something. Why couldn’t they? The policies of the state would not allow them to set foot here. Now that we have fought a long battle, the pace of development has increased here. Now the policy of the government and the party has also helped to move forward.
Let’s move towards the dispute and division of the CPN. Both groups are now saying that the parties are divided, but the Election Commission has not yet given its approval. Is there a legal hurdle for unification?
It is not that there is no possibility of self-examination where leaders have weakened. However, those who have taken to the streets have forgotten their values and status. The swearing they do on the street makes it clear that they are on the verge of collapse. But even in politics, nothing is impossible.
Basically, it was not right for them to leave the party and walk on the streets talking nonsense. They are talking about revolution, counter-revolution and regression, while I see it as the current leadership taking this step to preserve all achievements, including federalism.
The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict in a few days, but Prime Minister Oli warned that there could be agitation if the parliament is reconstituted. Isn’t this a direct threat to the Supreme?
I don’t think we should talk about the Supreme Court now. If there is no clarity in any article of the constitution, the Supreme Court has the right to interpret it. It will now explain Article 76. Thus, we accept what the judiciary decides.
What will you all do if the Parliament is restored?
That is not something to imagine right now. Let’s not talk about what will happen then. I think the work done by the government will be respected by the court. By correctly interpreting the constitution, it seems that the court will give a way out thinking of the future too.
There is also talk of a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister and a possible impeachment of the President if the Parliament is reconstituted. How likely is this?
As I said, let’s not imagine what to do if that happens. We will talk about this when it happens. People are shouting from the streets and terrorizing others by saying that this is a crisis. This is a desperate mentality.
The constitution provides for a state of emergency in extraordinary cases. This can be used when necessary. But now we need to be clear on whether it is needed or not. This is not to say that you should not wear it when such a situation arises. Otherwise, why does that section exist? It would have been better if there was no provision for imposing an emergency.
But, it is not right to terrorize by discussing that now. The understanding of them (Nepal-Dahal faction) is also not correct. They have no positive thinking. They are now moving forward forgetting their status and integrity. In such a situation, it is natural for them to say that a state of emergency will be imposed.
At the same time, if the Oli group is weak in the provinces, can the state assembly be dissolved?
That depends on the status of the state assembly, how the situation is developing and where it is going. This is what the Chief Minister can demand from the federal government. After receiving the report there, the head of the province concerned may also make a recommendation and submit this request.
It is up to the federal government to review and analyze the next steps.
In Province 2, the chief has been replaced. So now, will all the state chiefs belonging to other factions be replaced?
Is it right to go there as a representative of the federal government, but carry out politics by opposing the government? They should resign and then say such things. There is no justification for keeping him in place after protesting against the federal government.
There is no need to remove other province chiefs who function with the help of the government and follow the government’s policy. However, the head of Province 2 had spoken in such a manner and thus he was replaced.
The Vice President said this move is unconstitutional. So, can the Vice President say this is unconstitutional while the President has said that the dissolution is a constitutional process? Does he have that right? If you want to do politics, you have to resign from the post and come to the field.
Not only the Vice President, but the Speaker of the House of Representatives is also calling the move of the Prime Minister unconstitutional. What do you have to say on this?
To say so, you have to resign. If you want to do politics, you have to follow its values and beliefs! They talk about methodology, but they don’t act on it themselves.
Nepal’s constitution does not bar anyone from engaging in politics. If he wanted to talk like that, he should have resigned. Otherwise, he should uphold the dignity of the post.
The government has lifted the ban on the Maoists and called for a discussion. There is also a positive message from Biplav. Where will this take Nepali politics?
Even now, the Nepali people want peace, they want political stability, they want development. Therefore, this will help in development and political stability. The psychology of what will happen if they come and what they or others may do will end here and the country will move towards development.
Will the elections be held on time? Is it possible that Biplav will also participate?
Elections will be held on time. If they come by that time, the door will be open and no one can stop them.
Are there only discussions with Biplav or are there real efforts for unity?
That (unity) is not impossible. Just because they are part of the communist movement does not mean that they should not unite. It cannot be said that it is not possible after coming to the process of unification.
Do you plan to bring back those who were angry with Prachanda one by one in the past?
People will come together when it becomes clear where their destination is. There is no question of coming together without knowing the destination.
The current government is socialist oriented. Economic prosperity and happy Nepalis is a philosophical slogan that leads to socialism. It is a campaign to take the country towards economic prosperity, towards industrialization, increased trade, increased production. This way, national capital will develop and the country will move towards socialism.
The one whose goal aligns with ours will enter through the same door. If it is not clear in its own goal, this will not happen. As of now, the goals of groups including our own Chairman Prachanda is not clear. It is a battle of position and prestige, not of ideas. If their goal and destination are the same as ours, then we will definitely enter through the same door.
Allegations that the then Maoist leadership embezzled large sums of money by increasing the number of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have resurfaced. Is the government investigating this issue as well?
What happened in the cantonment? I think the former People’s Liberation Army commanders and their members are the ones to raise this issue of how oppressed they were.
As many as 34,000 were certified. There were 19,000 in the cantonment at that time. An additional Rs 15,000 has also been seen. Where did this go? This is something that the general public is looking for answers on. Especially the members within that cantonment still need to pay special attention.
This issue has been rising since some time. First, it was suppressed. There was also a commotion in the chair, which was also suppressed and the investigation was dramatized. No conclusion was reached.
You said in Dhangadhi, “I doubt that Resham Chaudhary is the mastermind of the Tikapur massacre.” Is the government preparing to release Chaudhary?
Resham Chaudhary is the coordinator of the struggle. Military killings have taken place there. Resham Chaudhary is not an army planner. That is why I said this.
The Government of Nepal should investigate. Yesterday’s report also has to be studied, made public and researched. My opinion is that no culprit should be left and no innocent should be convicted.
He (Madhav Nepal) was in the lead yesterday. As a leader, I wanted to know how active he was in investigating Madan Bhandari’s killer.
How Amar Lama was assassinated should be investigated. Why the murder took place, how the murder took place, what was the purpose, has not come up yet! I have spoken with the same intention.