Janardan Sharma ‘Pravakar’ is the politburo member of the UCPN-Maoist, the main ruling party. As the dissenting faction of the party has objected to the recent 7-point agreement on conclusion of peace process, there are speculations that the opposition will hamper the implementation of the pact. Also, given the extent of intra-party strife, there are questions about how the party leadership will maintain unity. At this backdrop, Nandalal Tiwari of The Rising Nepal talked with Sharma, who is also a former Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, on the degree of the dissents’ impact on implementation of the pact, the issues of the internal rift and the way forward.
Along with the recent agreement on peace process, the internal conflict in the Maoist party has further intensified. To what extent will the intra-party difference affect the implementation of the pact?
The important aspect regarding the agreement is the public concern. People have been aspiring for conclusion of peace and constitution writing processes and they have been waiting patiently for a long time. We promised the people to deliver a new constitution and we have been effortful for keeping our words. We are moving forward as per our commitments and goals to make a federal republic constitution ensuring secularism.
The agreement that was singed on Nov 1 comes in this context. The agreement upholds the decisions of our party. Previous Central Committee meeting of our party had decided to intensify efforts to conclude peace and constitution making processes. It mandated the Standing Committee to make concrete concept and draw the conclusion. The SC had, as you all know, made public a commitment paper in this regard after the paper was endorsed unanimously in the SC meeting.
Following the commitment paper, the party office held discussions with other parties and made the agreement. Hence, the signing of the agreement is as per the methods of our party, the decisions and the policy. Even those leaders who are now criticizing the pact had approved the commitment paper. Whatever disagreement has surfaced with regard to the 7-point agreement in our party is at theoretical level and as such there will be no difficulty in implementing it from our side.
However, they have picked up some of the points of the agreement and argued that they are against the party decision. What is the reality?
They have registered a 12-point note of dissent in our party office regarding various issues. The note of dissent was also distributed in the first day of the CC meeting which will resume on Nov 13. As I said above, whatever issues they have raised as being against party policy have not been so. When the party decided to focus with all strength on moving forward peace process, there was no dissenting. Those leaders who are putting forth note of dissent had also involved in making that decision. Therefore, I stress, the agreement is not against party policy.
While the internal conflict has reached its climax in your party, questions are raised regarding party unity. Even party chairman Prachanda has admitted addressing the CC meet that the conflict has met its highest. What is your analysis?
What the chairman said is that the two-line struggle is at its climax and that it is demanding a conclusion. And for this, all the CC members should speak openly, frankly and keeping in mind as to what is wrong and right at the moment. The question revolves around whether to conclude peace is right or returning to war is right. The difference is related to party line and theory. To help draw the conclusion and elevate the party unity in a new height, all the CC members should put forth their views whole-heartedly. This is the content of the chairman’s address and I believe the meeting will settle the internal problems.
Do you believe the meeting will resolve all the problems and consolidate the party unity?
Some of our party comrades have raised question regarding the party line of the peace process. Although we need to review the success of our tactics and plans since we adopted the line of peace process and constitution writing through the CA, we cannot give up the line. We know that revolution can be carried on by safeguarding the positive achievements made so far and not by departing from the line, which the dissenting leaders are asserting.
With the latest agreement almost all the differences over the issues of conclusion of the peace process have been resolved. However, inter-party differences over some vital issues of the new constitution still persist. In what way and how soon will they be settled?
Previously, parties like NC and UML were rejecting to discuss on vital issues of the new constitution before the issues of peace process were agreed upon. As differences over issues of peace process have been resolved now, the sub-committee under the Constitutional Committee of the CA formed to resolve the differences will resume its efforts to that end. As every body knows, most of differences have been settled by the sub-committee, except for federations. Even in this regard, we have agreed to form a panel of experts to suggest on the issue instead of constitutional provision that requires a commission to settle the issue of forms of the federations. The government has already initiated process to amend the interim constitution.
There are differences on electoral system and the form of the government?
These differences have been discussed in details and the discussions have taken the parties close to agreement. On electoral system, the parties are in unison that the electoral system should be such that ensures the participation of all the oppressed communities and regions, class and gender in the state power. On the form of the government, the discussions are focused on presidential system as this will check all the ills of parliamentary system, for instance, political instability due to power struggle, as practiced in our country. The parties are close to make agreement on how to balance the power between the prime minister and the president.
You are also a former deputy commander of the PLA. What is the extent of the influence of the thought of the dissenting faction in the PLA rank and file?
Some sort of false impression may have been made and that has also been seen in a few of the PLA members. However, in overall, the PLA rank and file has embraced the agreement and is ready to help implement the political agreement. As the PLA members used to be involved in the ideological struggle and know how it is resolved, they are not affected by the two-line in the party. The struggle in our party will not have any impact on the PLA members in course of regrouping for the purpose of integration and rehabilitation and the other process related to army integration.