War Is A
Totally New 21st Century War
By Prachanda & Alex Perry
23 April, 2005
Where does your
revolution stand at the moment?
Prachanda: The great
People's War has entered its last stage. When our party initiated the
People's War in 1996, we had not a single modern weapon nor any trained
armed groups, only an ideological, political and military line and a
plan. In the plan, we defined three strategic stages: strategic defensive,
strategic equilibrium and strategic offensive. We have a strong People's
Liberation Army, we have liberated vast rural bases and are fast growing
our political power in the rural areas of the country. We have confidence
in the masses and in ultimate victory, although we cannot predict an
exact time frame. We have already pushed the RNA [Royal Nepalese Army]
into defensive positions and confined them to the capital, district
headquarters and their barracks. Our strategy for this last stage will
be to fuse urban insurrection to protracted People's War.
Do you think
King Gyanendra made a tactical blunder in seizing power? Do you think
he was at least right that the political parties had failed the people?
now, there is great political turmoil in Nepal. The remnant of medieval
feudal autocracy, the infamous fratricidal and regicidal King Gyanendra,
is desperately resorting to a last reign of terror [to suppress] the
democratic aspirations of the Nepalese people. I don't think the king
was right because time and again [it has been] proved that it is the
king's conspiracy to establish a feudal military dictatorship. [On the
other hand], our party has every right to blame the parliamentary parties
for their conciliatory approach to feudal autocracy. We represent the
revolutionary alternative. We [are] leading the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist
democratic struggle, trying our best to crush feudal autocracy. It's
feudal autocracy versus people's democracy. And we believe the masses
are the real makers of history [and] will never surrender to this kind
of feudal autocracy.
More people are
going to die in this accelerated conflict, no?
Prachanda: The RNA
will try to unleash a new reign of terror and violence against the masses,
and will massacre the unarmed and innocent. Already RNA helicopters
have started to bomb houses and unarmed people. But they will never
be able to crush the growing resistance of the masses or the devastating
blows of the People's Liberation Army, [which has] a plan to protect
the masses through a series of attacks on the RNA's strategic points.
In war, it is inevitable some people will die. We will try our best
to minimize the people's sacrifice.
groups accuse you and the RNA of brutality, torture and murder. What's
your answer to such allegations, and your widely reported use of child
Prachanda: We are
fighting for the liberation of the masses, whereas the RNA is fighting
against the masses. They cannot be compared. Thousands of disappearances,
thousands of houses burned and looted, thousands of rapes, thousands
of [cases of] torture and killing of the people: these are the open
secrets of the RNA. At the same time, the PLA has captured hundreds
and hundreds of RNA and police personnel, treated them humanely, respected
them as prisoners of war and freed them. And we are very serious about
the number of Nepalese people who have fled their home villages, even
the country. We regularly appeal to people to return home and say we
will take care of their security, and an increasing number of people
who fled are returning.
Because we are at
war, I can't rule out mistakes, but whenever we see them, we try to
correct them. I want to appeal to democratic institutions and people
all over the world not to be confused by the yellow propaganda of the
RNA. The propaganda concerning the use of children in the People's Army
is curious. We strictly do not allow those below the age of 18 to join.
But one thing [that confuses] commentators is the thousands of orphans
of our martyrs. Our party naturally undertakes the responsibility to
feed, educate and train them so as to be good successors to their parents.
We never use them in fighting, but we educate and discipline them as
a children's organization. When we are taking care of poor children,
how can one draw parallels with things like the Khmer Rouge?
the war in Nepal, between King and Communist army, seems like it belongs
to an earlier time. Is Nepal still fighting the battles of the last
is a very interesting question. First, our party neither represents
dogmatism nor revisionism. We are trying to defend, apply and develop
our [communist] science to the national and international situation.
We are different to how outsiders imagine us: remaining firm in our
ideological orientation, but very flexible. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
is a unified science of social revolution of the proletariat, developed
through the earth-shaking struggle of the masses. Being a science it
deserves continuous and consistent development. The "Prachanda
Path" is the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the condition
of Nepal, and its enrichment also. Our People's War is a totally new
21st century war. Our party is not only fighting autocratic monarchy-so
many countries have already finished this task over the last centuries-but
also the evil of the imperialist world, the hypocrisy of so-called democracy
that a superpower like the U.S. represents. Everybody knows that these
so-called democratic countries don't support the democratic demands
of the Nepalese people, but rather this hated feudal autocratic monarchy
with huge military assistance.
Do you truly
believe your revolution will spread across the world?
Prachanda: The imperialist
world order makes a handful of rich richer and the vast majority inhumanly
poorer. Developing sharp differences between the haves and the have-nots
generates the basis for world revolution. Anybody can observe the growing
global unrest at this world order. We deeply believe that what we are
starting in Nepal is part of a worldwide 21st century revolution.
is party discipline and loyalty? Is there a danger of totalitarianism,
or a cult of personality around you?
Prachanda: Our party
seriously analyzes the lessons of history, particularly from the great
revolutions and counterrevolutions of the 20th century. After thorough
debate, we have put forward a new historic proposal called "the
development of democracy in the 21st century" [which] guarantees
the new state will be under the observation, control and hegemony of
the general masses. There will be free competition among political parties,
[provided they] oppose feudalism and imperialism and work for the service
of the masses. We also propose the party should [divide]: one section
will work among the masses and the other will handle the state work.
After some time this division will rotate to check the party and state
from the danger of bureaucratic capitalism and totalitarianism. Anyway,
the main thing is we are trying to build a new type of party that continuously
revolutionizes itself through constant ideological and class struggle.
Beyond the necessity of centralizing leadership, there is no question
of any cult of personality. We are trying our best to develop a system
of collective leadership and a flow of successors.
Do you have support
Prachanda: The international
community should understand the feudal autocratic nature of the King
and the democratic nature of the Maoists. China's current ruling class
dreams of being the new superpower, which goes directly against the
path charted by Mao Zedong. China fears the return of Mao in Nepal.
But there are other forces who directly or indirectly support our proposal
for U.N. or international mediation, and we have so many friends and
institutions with whom we have regular contact, but for technical reasons,
I am unable to disclose who they are.
How did you become
what you are? What inspired you?
Prachanda: By class,
I am from a poor peasant family. My parents left their home village
in the mountains and settled in Chitwan, and once there our family upgraded
itself to a middle-class peasant family. But from my very childhood
I knew the meaning of poverty and inhuman exploitation. And because
Chitwan was a newly settled district, where people from all over the
country gathered, [I had] a chance to [meet] people of different classes,
castes and cultural backgrounds. In high school, I came across communist
ideology, then I was involved in student politics, and by the time I
graduated, I was already communist. Thereafter I took part in all kinds
of small and big struggles, and that led me to the situation where I
am today. My vision of a perfect Nepal is a democratic new Nepal, free
from the exploitation of feudalism, working for economic and cultural
prosperity. Similarly a perfect world is free of imperialism and exploitation
of men by men, in which humanity marches togethertowards infinite prosperity.
Do you ever have
doubts about what you're doing? Do you ever think what a different life
might have been like?
war helped me to understand the enormous energy and the depth of feeling
that the masses carry in their souls. I am proud of this understanding.
I have never dreamt and will never dream of a life dissociated from
the masses. No! I never have doubts about dedicating oneself to the
noble cause of liberating the masses. I never worry about personal success
or failure, but I have absolute confidence in the victory of the masses.
I have no time, nor interests outside the party, the campaign and the
masses. To sacrifice myself to change the world for the betterment of
humanity, [to fight] against the evil system of exploitation of men
by men, this is my first and last dream.
Why do you remain
Prachanda: Due to
some serious technical difficulties, I couldn't meet you face to face.
I hope in the near future I will. But I am not so hidden from my people.
I am open and in constant interaction with them. [Otherwise] how could
I do my job in this life and death struggle?
This interview is
taken by TIME South Asia bureau chief Alex Perry and published in Time
online edition. Prachanda declined to be interviewed in person but agreed
to reply in writing to questions delivered by TIME's South Asia bureau
chief Alex Perry to a go-between in rebel territory. The replydated
Feb. 25 and signed "With best regards, Your Prachanda"came
by e-mail. Although TIME could not independently verify that Prachanda
wrote the e-mail, several senior Party leaders attested that he was
Prachanda is the
Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
2005 Time Inc. All rights reserved.