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Archive for January, 2013

My Crush that Week: Shoma Chaudhury

Posted by chimeki on January 23, 2013

Shoma chaudhury

Shoma Chaudhury
Photo Courtesy http://newsandallthat.wordpress.com

Recently in an event I had a chance meeting with Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka. She was moderating the event, a book launch on the Maoist Movement in India at the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Later, I decided to congratulate her. Of course I did. But the handshake was longer than what is considered appropriate. She had to snatch her hand to humble me.

I like very few people. Shoma is one of those rare people I like to read and listen to. Her writings and video editorials in Tehelka are enlightening as well as engaging. She is extraordinarily attractive and articulate. Her hands are soft. Probably she is used to computers from the start. Pen users often have hardened finger tips.  Her eyes are spot less. She does not smoke. Smokers have yellowish sclera. Her eye lashes are upwardly curled and finely made to look longer. In adherence to the event, she was wearing red nail polish. Unlike others of her kind she is of modest height. It makes her approachable. As is the case with others, you don’t have to stretch your body to look at her eyes. Her voice is microphone friendly. It doesn’t hurt ears. Often, I have terrible experience watching presenters shouting at the top of their voice to look convincing. Shoma, with a pause here and a pause there and fine voice modulation, looks convincing without hard beating your eardrums.

Acknowledging the arrival of cold, she was wearing a woollen Kurta with dark shawl. May be to avoid attracting unnecessary attention she was wearing non-metal jewellery. I, kind of have reservation for these raw jewellery the Delhiwalas wear often. Without exceptions these jewellery are out of sync with the space and time they live in. Instead of making them attractive they make them repulsive. Seriously, who will like a cowbell on a woman’s neck?

Shoma says she is a constitutionalist. Elaborating further, she suggests the time we live in makes every constitutionalist automatically anti-state. I endorse the argument for I too can feel the contradiction of the state with its constitution.

As soon as she joined the dais, she made it clear that the book to be launched was a failure. She lambasted the author for not complying with the ethics of journalism. She said she wanted to boycott the function but decided to present her view openly. When the author countered her suggesting that she see the book in entirety, she said, any given book was either completely good or wholly bad and could not be somewhere in between. She not only corrected the author but a section of the audience too who for reason unknown wanted her to praise the author or at least support him.

After writing this far I don’t know how to conclude this. But seriously, how often do we need a conclusion?

V.S.

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‘Nepal is Heading Towards a Bright Future’

Posted by chimeki on January 2, 2013

In September 2012 Dharmendra Bastola ‘Kanchan’, politburo member of Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, was in New Delhi. The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had recently split and political atmosphere was heavily charged. Nepal watchers were on their feet to see which way the new party moved. Amidst, guesses and speculations Mr. Bastola, who was obviously very busy with his engagements, spared some time to speak on situation in Nepal. He made some very important observations. He denied going the old route of People’s War and also put forward his party’s positions on recently dissolved Constituent Assembly. His party, he suggested, wanted a round table conference of all the stake holders in Nepal to end the deadlock.  

Dharmendra Bastola ‘Kanchan’ with Vishnu Sharma

On Nepal

Dharmendra Bastola

Dharmendra Bastola

Q. Where is Nepal Heading?

DB: It is a complicated question. Nepal is demanding a constitution. A people’s constitution. Currently, there are two forces in Nepal. One is the progressive force which is demanding a constitution of the people for a forward going Nepalese society. There is another force too. This force is trying to hook off the forward going process and stop the country from getting new constitution. This force is trying to introduce an old type of constitution, which will continue Nepal’s position as semi-feudal, semi-colonial society. In this condition, there are two possibilities. One is that these parties will be convinced that Nepal needs a new constitution, the constitution for the people. For this, they will come forward themselves. If that does not happen and regressive forces try to hold the country to the same old state, the country will once more go in a struggle. Like mass uprising or mass struggle by which people will establish their rights, people’s constitution and an egalitarian democratic society. These are the possibilities, however, right now, no one can say where Nepal is going. In my opinion Nepal is heading towards a bright future.

Q. What kind of “Bright future”?

DB: Bright future of getting people’s constitution, a forward going society and it will get national independence, sovereignty. It is going to solve the underlying contradictions of its society such as the contradictions of nationality, independence, livelihood and democracy.

Q. There seems to be no agreement among the political parties of Nepal on the current deadlock. Who do you think is responsible for this mess?

DB: Of course there is no agreement. As I have mentioned earlier there are two forces playing in Nepal. One is very regressive, backward and reactionary. These forces are inside every parliamentary party.

Q. When you say regressive, backward and reactionary forces, do you mean to suggest your former colleagues too?

DB: I think it is not appropriate to mention anyone by name as it can be understood by everyone from their political stand and point of views. What we are trying to do is to win over those forces for the forward going progressive society and progressive constitution. In that case it would not be appropriate to underline or name. Nevertheless, now it is our party only which is standing on the agenda of people’s interest that we have been raising for last 10-15 years. For which there had been people’s war, for which we came in peace process, for which we tried to write a constitution from the Constituent Assemble, for which we have been demanding national independence, democracy and livelihood for the people. This is our stand and other parties are lagging behind. They are not meeting the demands and are not committed to the commitments they had made in the past.

Q. So what solution do you offer?

DB: The solution we are offering is round table conference to reach an agreement. The agreement can be one-point, two-point or five-point so on, so forth. But that agreement should address nationality, democracy and livelihood of the people. And that agreement cannot be for the old type of constitution and backward, semi-feudal-semi-feudal society. It cannot be for the neo-colonial Nepal.

Q. Will other parties agree to your proposal?

DB: The parties are agreeing to the round table conference but only to the level of discussion. They are still to come to the level of consensus and agreement. We are still to see if they come to that kind of agreement.

On Split with Former Party

Q. There seems to be no fundamental differences between your party and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Can you justify the split?

DB: For the onlookers it seems there are no fundamental differences but there are basic and fundamental differences. And the differences are: the old party has deviated from the principle, from the commitment, from the theory and principle. It has given up on line, the line of standing in favour of the people. They had given up the stand that the party previously had. That is the main thing and now we have been standing for that line, we are for a progressive society. They are lagging behind the old parliamentary parties and their effort to bring other parties in the line of constitutionalizing republic is now abandoned. We want to preserve the achievements, they are spoiling these achievements. These all are the differences. The basic difference is they have abandoned the line. They have plunged down the country into a regressive, parliamentarian, feudal and neo colonial society.

Q. But Dr. Baburam Bhattarai himself talks about preserving the past achievements?

DB: That is always the case when a regressive or reactionary force comes in power. For example, in 1950 when the King Tribhuvan came into power through India’s intervention he too talked about the saving the past achievements of the struggle. Although the achievements were of the people and their leadership but the king and the Rana regime seized or hijacked them. After that in 1980s there was a struggle and that struggle was also hijacked by King Birendra. He too talked about preserving the achievements of past struggle. Moreover, in 1990, there was a big struggle and the monarchy was transformed into constitutional monarchy. Then again, the Monarchy was made the vanguard or an institution to save the achievements of the 1990’s movement! Similarly, now the lackeys and stooges of bourgeoisies and reactionary elements of Nepal, who Dr Bhattarai represents, are claiming to represent  and preserve the interest of the struggle, however, the reality is, Dr. Bhattarai has already spoiled, given up and liquidated the entire achievements of the people by not giving the constitution, by not establishing the federal republic of Nepal, and by illegitimately seizing power by being the prime minister. And he is deliberately blocking the forward going political process. So, it is just a farce to say that he is preserving the achievements of the great people’s war. Of course, he was also in the party and fought together but now he has liquidated into feudalism and authoritarianism. So he does not represent people’s interest, he doesn’t represent the elements that could represent the interest of the masses and the achievements of the people’s war.

Q. On the 10th of this month C.P. Gajurel ‘Gaurav’, your party’s vice-chairman, submitted a 70-point demand letter to the government of Nepal. The 40 out of the 70 demands are those, which you had submitted in 1995 before the initiation of the people’s war. However, the prime minister claimed that everything then demanded has been achieved and that was why the Maoists abandoned the people’s war. What is your reaction?

DB: The statement is completely misleading. We have only achieved the Republic. Nothing else. For example, we had demanded: abrogation of 1950 treaty; 1965 secret agreement that monopolized India in Nepal and made Nepal a suzerain state. It jeopardized Nepal’s economy. Next, we had demanded steps to develop national economy. Now, after signing BIPPA (Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) in 2011 it is deteriorated further. At the time of submitting the 40-point agreement we were a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country but now our country has been plunged into neo-colonial country. Because of that we have, this time, forwarded 70-point demand letter. Dr. Bhattarai is lying. He is cheating the people. Except for one demand that is Republic no other demand is fulfilled. National economy is not developed. Nothing is being done on the question of national independence. There is no democracy in the country. Dr. Bhattarai has plunged the country into bureaucratic autocracy. The people are without a constitution. Further, the Nepalese resources are sold to the monopoly capitalists. The country’s condition is more deteriorated than what it was before Dr. Bhattarai took over as the prime minister.

Q. The UCPNM is talking about the unity with you. Is there any chance of unification?

DB: There is a chance provided they give up reactionary line and come up in the revolutionary line. In that condition unity is possible.

Q. In 1995 your party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), submitted the 40-point demand to the government of Nepal and immediately launched the people’s war. On 10 of September 2012 you again submitted a 70 point demand letter to the government. Will you take the same course?

DB: No, I don’t think we will take the same course. The situation is totally different and developed now. We are calling the parliamentary parties as well as neo-revisionist party of Prachanda to come forward for the constitution, for the interest of the masses of the people, national sovereignty, to address the problem of national independence and livelihood. If these parties don’t agree to the agenda of a forward going progressive society we will definitely go to the masses of people. It can be a movement like the previous 19-days movement and throw the lackeys and stooges of monopoly capitalism, feudal and bureaucratic capitalists and the people’s power will be established.

Q. Will you then unite with the pro-monarchy forces?

DB: Because the monarchy is already abolished so uniting with it is out of question. The monarchy doesn’t have any line. There is no question of unity with an abolished force rather this kind of forces which are national traitors; bureaucratic capitalists can raise head in this or that name to destroy the achievements of the struggle of the people. We are vigilant about their conspiracy and efforts to take the country backwards.

On India

Dharmendra Bastola2Q. In the 70-point letter there are more than 30 demands directly or indirectly related to India. How do you see India’s role in Nepal after Peace Process began in 2006?

DB: India’s role has been two sided. On the one side it is helping the ruling class on the other it is suppressing the Nepalese people. For example it is intervening in politics, economy and every sector of social life. The regime is going against the people. So, what we ask the Indian ruling class is that they should understand that Nepalese people want freedom, sovereignty, democracy, development, peace and progress in Nepal. India’s role has always been against the Nepalese people.

Q. Does your party consider India an enemy?

DB: No, we don’t consider India as enemy. Obviously, we do question its policy in Nepal. Nepal has been neo-colonized and this neo-colonial status of Nepal is basically in relation to India. Nepal is India’s neo-colony. We disagree on this, and we question this policy. We never consider India as enemy. It is our neighboring country and we believe in establishing a cordial and friendly relation with India. But any such relation can only be maintained by recognizing Nepal as a free and independent country. Plus, Nepal should be allowed to develop national economy, sovereignty. The relationship must be developed to this level. So, we want cordial relationship with the people of India, government of India but present status of relationship is not on that level.

Q. Do you have any kind of relationship with the Indian Maoists?

DB: We have an ideological-political relationship. We don’t have any other relationship. We had relationship during the time of decade long people’s war. That too was ideological-political relationship and nothing more than that.

Q. My last question is: does your party believe in democracy?

DB: Of course, our total struggle is for democracy and we say that those who claim to be democrats are in essence dictators. The parliamentary system is a sheer dictatorship that can be seen in the entire world. Thousands of people are killed in the name of democracy; thousands are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. This all in the name of democracy. This kind of freedom is a freedom for exploitation, it is a freedom to kill people, it is a freedom to loot, rob and exploit. This kind of freedom is not a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. It is a monopoly capitalists’, imperialist’s dictatorship. Of course we want to destroy this kind of dictatorship and establish democracy of the people. I want to assure that only the communists, the Maoists are the real democrats. Their democracy is for the people, for the people of all nationalities and for the people of the world. So, we are the only people who believe in democracy. The rest are dictators. Their dictatorship is supported by the power of military, police, judiciary and accumulated property.

V.S.

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