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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

Interview with C. P. Gajurel (Gaurav)

.....'They were curious to know about the technicalities of our party. They questioned me regarding many aspects of our party. How many members are there? How many in the central committee? How is the party structured? When I said that my party ethics do not allow me to divulge any information, they said, "We can kill someone, dump the body somewhere and no will be any the wiser; Tamil Nadu is infamous for such activities." '........................
EKantipur News:(Interview by Yeshoda Timsina)
22nd January, 2007

Excerpts of a recent interview with the CPN-Maoist party's in-charge of international affairs and politburo member, Chandra Prakash Gajurel (Gaurav).

Q. How did you get arrested in Chennai?

C. P. Gajurel: I was on my way to Europe for some official party business. I was using a fake passport, which belonged to a British individual; the passport had my photograph instead of his. While changing the photo, it was slightly crumpled at the edges.
My friends had warned me that it was risky. And eventually the immigration officers questioned me. I was giving my answer when the wife of the British High Commissioner came to drop her husband off who was about to leave for London. As it turned out, she herself was a diplomat too.

When my passport was shown to her, she questioned me about London. However, I was unable to answer even her easiest questions and instead, I cross-questioned her, "Who are you to be questioning me?" And although she didn't apologize, she did say that I had made the airport staff suspicious. The next day, the British High Commissioner himself arrived there.

I was interrogated all night. Finally they found out that my passport was fake. I identified myself before the authorities. The party manifesto itself dictates that high officers, when caught, cannot hide their real identities.

Q. So you were at fault?

Gajurel: Yes. At a time with the "red corner notice" and a price on our heads, it was impossible to travel with our original credentials. But it was extremely necessary to go to Europe to extend the party ranks. Thus, I had to take the risk.

Q. How did the Chennai Police treat you after they realized that you were a Maoist member?

Gajurel: They were curious to know about the technicalities of our party. They questioned me regarding many aspects of our party. How many members are there? How many in the central committee?

How is the party structured? When I said that my party ethics do not allow me to divulge any information, they said, "We can kill someone, dump the body somewhere and no will be any the wiser; Tamil Nadu is infamous for such activities."
They told me that even if they sympathized with me, they could not save me.

Q. How was the treatment inside the jail?

Gajurel: In the beginning the police officer there ordered me to be placed in "solitary confinement" because I was an extremist leader. There was a communication problem as they did not understand English and I did not know Tamil. The food was pathetic and water was so dirty, I got sick as soon as I drank it. After a week, my wife visited me. For the next one and a half months I survived on the water, bread and fruits that she brought me. They started treating me like the other prisoners only after I threatened the authorities to go on a hunger strike.

Q. Was there anyone worth recalling that you met during your jail term?

Gajurel: There was a journalist named Navkiran Gopal. He used to publish a newspaper named "Navkiran" twice a week. At that time the infamous Indian dacoit Veerappan had kidnapped south Indian actor Rajkumar. In order to have Rajkumar released, Gopal was acting as a facilitator. But when Veerappan got killed then Gopal was arrested. While I shared a cell with him, I got to listen to the radio. One day he had to write a letter in English so I wrote it for him. When the authorities saw that, they separated us and sent me back to my initial cell.

Q. Definitely staying in jail is not very fruitful, but what do you think is the advantage you gained because of it?

Gajurel: After my arrest, demonstrations were staged in more than 35 countries all over the world. Everyone was worried that I might be extradited back to Nepal, which is probably why it never happened. Some inmates used to say, "You have become more famous than the chief minister of Chennai." On my court hearing days there used to be hundreds of people outside the court. Some people were skeptical to the point that they asked me whether I had got myself arrested on purpose. My arrest and the arrest of many of our party members was very helpful in establishing us in South Asia. In my opinion jail is one place where you should learn to take every negative thing positively.

Q. After you had been taken to Jalpaigudi jail you were deemed a political detainee?

Gajurel: No I was labeled a political detainee only in the last two months of imprisonment. During that period, even the facilities given to me in prison were good.

Q. Did you ever think that you would be released this soon?

Gajurel: Considering the charges against me I should have been released even earlier. But the Indian government had plotted to detain me longer under many other false charges. Our early release was a result of the rapidly changing political situation of Nepal in those days.

Q. Moving to another topic, what are the future international policies of the CPN-M?

Gajurel: Our policies will definitely be based on the Panchasheel. We will maintain friendly relations with all other countries. Of course, we will decide what our relations are going to be like with each individual nation. Any agreements and treaties that we will sign in future will be in favour of Nepal and Nepalis.

Q. Do you mean that the treaties and agreements that were signed earlier were not in favour of Nepal?

Gajurel: Yes, they had been signed under unfavourable and different circumstances. We are merely saying that those old treaties like the one signed with India in 1950 should be replaced with new ones.

Q. Haven't issues of reviewing the past treaties and agreements also arisen?

Gajurel: Why bring up reviewing when two nations are in agreement? This would be like making an amendment all over again. Our focus is on annulment and new formations not on reviewing past actions.

Q. What is the reason behind the 180 degree turn in your attitude towards India?

Gajurel: Earlier, even India was against the Maoist revolution. So naturally, our views weren't positive towards them at that time. But recently, we have felt a positive change in their attitude towards us. Even when the 12 point agreement was being formulated India did support it indirectly. We don't dwell on the past. We might have stopped calling India an expansionist state, but our attitude towards them will depend upon their approach to Nepal and Nepalis in future.

Q. How are your relations with America?

Gajurel: America is a typical imperialist. In order to implement its diplomatic policies in India and China, Nepal is a strategically important place for America.

Q. Aren't you closer to China, in terms of ideology?

Gajurel: China is a communist country only in name's sake. But the fact is, they are capitalist in nature. But in any case, we treat them like a good neighbour. But, obviously since China is 1600 kilometres further away than India we do not have as much to do with China as with India. Thus, "closeness to India is the need of the hour for the country today."

Q. What kind of relations will you have with other rebel forces outside Nepal?

Gajurel: They are all good. Of course, that doesn't mean that we are in a state of complete unanimity.

Q. So, isn't it that this whole revolution was, after all is said and done, to get in to Parliament with its old and ineffective structure and ideology?

Gajurel: Our revolt was and will always be for Nepal and Nepalis. Our revolt always had the mass as its focal point. Nobody admits that they are hungry for power. The Nepali people will be the judge of whether the 83 MPs that we have selected are worthy or not. We will just have to wait and see.

Q. Your party too must want a share in the important ministries?

Gajurel: That is still left to be seen. We are waiting to see whether there will be a suitable climate in which we can choose portfolios. The way the ministries have been shared at the moment, we will probably get ministries too. We have even heard rumors that government officials are being made ready to prevent us from doing our duties. We are just going to wait and react as and when necessary.

Q. Why has the power-sharing been limited to the Eight Party Alliance? Isn't there anybody outside the Eight Party Alliance in the country?

Gajurel: Why not? We have the Civil society! We have seen the huge role of civil society during and after the April movement. So, we are always watchful that the civil society members get the respect they deserve. You will see the results of this in the coming days.

Q. You have been given 83 seats in the Interim Legislature; do you think you can maintain the number after the elections?

Gajurel: You talk about maintaining our seats, we are confident that we will form the government.

Q. What are the possibilities of all Left parties coming together?

Gajurel: We urge not only the Left parties but also the Congress to unite. We are even ready to give up Prachandapath if that is what it takes.

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posted by Bimal 28.1.07,


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